Neukölln is in danger. With 236.7 cases per day (on a rolling seven-day average), we are the worst hotspot in Germany. But no worries! The conservative party of Angela Merkel, the Christian-Democratic Union, is on the case. On Friday, Kai Wegner, the chairman of the CDU in Berlin, came to our kiez and parked a bright-yellow Lamborghini on Hermannstraße.
The Italian sport car was covered in stickers that were supposed to look like bullet holes, and a slogan: “Criminal clans belong on Netflix. Not on Berlin’s streets. CDU Berlin.”
Wegner would like to be Berlin’s next mayor. His partner in this bizarre and expensive street theatre was Falko Liecke, who would like to be the next mayor of Neukölln.
What was this all about? The Neukölln branch of Merkel’s party seems to be copying a page from Donald Trump’s playbook: rather than focussing on a pandemic that is killing thousands and tanking the economy, they would prefer for voters to think about largely fictitious dangers. Trump is asking people to worry about “Antifa” (which he always pronounces an–TI-fa) who are getting money from George Soros to set forest fires in Oregon and loot rural houses. The German conservatives, in contrast, are asking us to worry about “criminal clans”.
I actually live in one of the areas that are portrayed on shows like 4 Blocks or Clans of Berlin as one of Berlin’s “no-go areas” under the iron rule of a Middle Eastern mafia. And honestly, it’s hard to imagine anywhere that feels much safer.
There is a real problem here, and it is called Kettenduldung. When refugees apply for asylum in Germany — a right which is guaranteed in Germany’s Basic Law — either their application is accepted and they get a residency permit, or it gets rejected and they get deported. But they can also get stuck in a legal limbo somewhere in between: a Duldung (toleration) means they are supposed to be deported but the deportation is suspended. People with this status can get a “chain” of Duldungen — meaning they can live here for years or decades without a legal right to work. This, of course, forces people to become “criminals,” violating the law by working without permission.
There are clans in Germany that are making enormous profits with criminal activities. But the real criminals don’t live in Neukölln. As the New York Times has documented, Deutsche Bank has long been known as one of most dubious financial institutions on Wall Street. They have been fined billions of dollars by different countries for money laundering and financial scams. They inadvertently even helped a lump named Donald Trump become U.S. president. Is the CDU fighting this criminal clan? The former clan chief is featured prominently on the CDU’s website.
Or for even more systematic criminality, look at the Porsche-Piëch clan who control Volkswagen and Porsche. Their companies were responsible for systematic manipulation of diesel motors in order to circumvent environmental regulations. Volkswagen regularly pays off the CDU in order to avoid accountability for this worldwide fraud.
This list could go on. But the CDU would rather you not think too much about their friends who are stealing billions from public coffers. They would rather you be scared of an Arab family in Neukölln. While criminals are meeting in bank towers to avoid taxes, the conservatives want you to be worried about the guys in a shisha bar.
The CDU, by the way, had put a fake license plate on the Lamborghini. It said “Bye Bye.” This is not only a completely tasteless reference to slogans in favour of deportation from extreme right parties like the AfD and the NPD. It is also, as the Berlin police pointed out, a crime. Yet another example of the CDU acting like a criminal clan.