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REFUGEE CRISIS

IMMIGRATION

Pro-refugee group push punk classic to no. 1

Under the banner of "Arsehole Action", activists campaigning against xenophobia and hatred of refugees have pushed a 1993 hit by punk band Die Ärzte mocking the far right to the top of Germany's charts.

Pro-refugee group push punk classic to no. 1
Die Ärzte singer and drummer Bela B. with a DVD titled "not interested in Nazis" in 2009. Photo: DPA

“You're really thick as pigshit
That's why you feel fine
Hate is your attitude
Your blood is always boiling”

That's how punk legends Die Ärzte opened “Schrei Nach Liebe” (Cry Out For Love), their 1993 hit that would go on to become an anthem in the German anti-fascist movement.

Its chorus about their imagined Nazi's psychological issues – “Your violence is a cry for love, your combat boots long for tenderness” – builds up to the one-word gut-punch of “arsehole” and has been a staple of left-wing activists ever since.

“Unfortunately, since the 90s the song has never been so relevant as now. History is repeating itself, and we should stop it,” a group calling itself “Aktion Arschloch” (Arsehole Action) posted on September 1st.

Their campaign has pushed the song to number one in the singles charts, a week after it beat out mainstream club hits in the iTunes charts and 22 years after its fist release.

“Success of this kind is unprecedented in German chart history,” said Mathias Giloth, who runs GfK Entertainment, which publishes Germany's official music charts.

Austrians and Swiss have also backed the campaign, sending the song to Number 1 in Austria and Number 2 in Switzerland, Gfk Entertainment added.

“Die Ärzte think it's good and important that positions are being taken on the radio. This would be a cool action with any other anti-Nazi song. But of course we're happy to support it if it must be our song,” the band wrote in a statement on their website.

Meanwhile, the song hit number one in the iTunes singles chart on Thursday, prompting the organizers to announce that “the action has hit like a bomb!”.

They called on supporters to ask music sellers to donate their share of the profits from the sales and to petition Die Ärzte to re-release the single on CD.

And while the band were happy to see the song hit number one on the iTunes singles chart on Thursday, all their share proceeds will be going to refugee aid organization Pro Asyl.

“We wish all Nazis and their sympathisers a bad time,” they said.

Along with 20 other well-known German bands including Beatsteaks, Deichkind and Die Toten Hosen, Die Ärzte will be in Berlin on Friday morning to sign their names to a call to action against far-right attacks on refugees in Germany.

There have been increasing numbers of far-right attacks on refugees in Germany as numbers fleeing to Europe from conflict zones in Africa and the Middle East increase.

Last month the German government announced that it expects up to 800,000 asylum applications in 2015.

But large numbers of ordinary Germans have also joined in grass-roots movements to help the desperate people arriving in the country, while Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned racism and xenophobia in a press conference on Monday.

SEE ALSO: Five ways you can help refugees in Germany

SWEDISH CITIZENSHIP

‘The idea is to convert permanent residency into Swedish citizenship,’ Migration minister says

Sweden's Migration Minister has responded to criticism of the government's proposal to abolish permanent residency, telling an interviewer that the hope is that holders will gain full citizenship rather than get downgraded to temporary status.

'The idea is to convert permanent residency into Swedish citizenship,' Migration minister says

“The main idea behind the [Tidö] agreement is that we should convert permanent residency to citizenship,” Maria Malmer Stenergard, from the right-wing Moderate Party, told the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper.”You should not be here forever on a permanent residence permit. A clear path to citizenship is needed.”

I envision that you will receive individual plans for how to achieve this,” she continued. “Learn the language, earn a living, and have knowledge of Swedish society, so that you can fully become a Swedish citizen.” 

Malmer Stenergard said it was still unclear whether a planned government inquiry into the possibility of “converting…existing permanent residence permits” would also open the way for those who have been given a permanent right to live in the country to be downgraded to a temporary residency permit. 

“We’ll have to look at that,” she said. “There is a problem with positive administrative decisions and changing them, which the Migration Agency’s director general Mikael Ribbenvik has been aware of. We also state in the Tidö Agreement that basic principles of administrative law shall continue to apply.” 

READ ALSO: What do we know about Sweden’s plans to withdraw permanent residency?

In the Tidö Agreement, the deal between the far-right Sweden Democrats and the three government parties, it says that “asylum-related residence permits should be temporary and the institution of permanent residence permits should be phased out to be replaced by a new system based on the immigrant’s protection status”.

It further states that “an inquiry will look into the circumstances under which existing permanent residence permits can be converted, for example through giving affected permit holders realistic possibilities to gain citizenship before a specified deadline. These changes should occur within the framework of basic legal principles.”

Malmer Stenergard stressed that the government would only retroactively reverse an administrative decision (over residency) if a way can be found to make such a move compatible with such principles. 

“This is why we state in the Tidö Agreement that basic principles of administrative law must apply,” she said. 

She said the government had not yet come to a conclusion on what should happen to those with permanent residency who either cannot or are unwilling to become Swedish citizens. 

“We’re not there yet, but of course we’re not going to be satisfied with people just having an existing permanent residency, which in many cases has been granted without any particularly clear demands, if they don’t then take the further steps required for citizenship.” 

This did not mean, however, that those with permanent residency permits should be worried, she stressed. 

“If your ambition is to take yourself into Swedish society, learn the language, become self-supporting, and live according to our norms and values, I think that there’s a very good chance that you will be awarded citizenship.” 

She said that even if people couldn’t meet the requirements for citizenship, everyone with permanent residency should at least have “an individual plan for how they are going to become citizens”, if they want to stay in Sweden. 

When it comes to other asylum seekers, however, she said that the government’s aim was for residencies to be recalled more often. 

“We want to find a way to let the Migration Agency regularly reassess whether the grounds for residency remain. The aim is that more residencies should be recalled, for example, if a person who is invoking a need of asylum or other protection then goes back to their home country for a holiday.” 

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