Friday, January 14, 2005

Alsace Hate Watch

Kai Littmann at EUROPEUS believes that the hate crimes being perpetrated in Alsace are not merely expressions of racism. The graffiti left behind at a recent incident — the attempt to burn down the home of a spokesman of a regional Islamic organization — suggests that the larger issue is migration and crossborder movement.

The two words "Araben raus," painted on a nearby wall, was written to look as if Germans had attempted the arson. As Littmann points out, the words could not have been written by a German because, in two words, the author makes several grammatical mistakes — it should be written "Araber ‘raus". Moreover (and most importantly), racism in Germany is not directed at a group known as ‘Arabs.' Rather the ‘Turks' are the objects of hatred.

Littmann claims that by trying to frame Germans for the violence, the perpetrators were also trying to "trouble the excellent Franco-German entente, which proves to be an indispensable base for the construction of the Eurodistrict CUS-Ortenau." The project to which Littmann refers is a cross-border region between the Strasbourg Urban Community and adjacent areas of Baden-Wuerttemberg. Cooperation across the river has drawn many Germans to Alsace: they live in France and commute to Germany to work.

It is likely that the weakening of national competency over immigration and transnational movement has caused anxieties. What still needs to be explained why perpetrators would choose to frame German, but attacks Muslims.

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