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Lazio will take fans to Auschwitz in bid to tackle anti-Semitism

Lazio will take fans to Auschwitz, the club said on Tuesday, after supporters were accused of using Anne Frank’s image as an anti-Semitic slur.

Lazio will take fans to Auschwitz in bid to tackle anti-Semitism
Lazio fans in Rome. Photo: Gabriel Bouys/APF

Meanwhile Lazio’s players are to wear shirts bearing the Holocaust victim’s face during their next pre-match warm-up.

The club’s management went into damage control on Tuesday after police in Rome said they were investigating offensive stickers found in the capital’s Stadio Olimpico after Lazio played there on Sunday.

The stickers showed Anne Frank wearing the jersey of Lazio’s arch rivals Roma.

Lazio’s chairman, Claudio Lotito, announced that the club would start a project to take 200 young people a year to visit Auschwitz, the Nazi death camp in Poland.

He was speaking from Rome’s Great Synagogue, where he laid flowers at a memorial for Holocaust victims, accompanied by some of Lazio’s players.

“Lazio will go to Auschwitz,” he told the cameras. “What happened must not be forgotten.”

Insisting that most of the club’s fans were not racists, he said: “No one can use Lazio this way.”

Lotito also ordered his squad to wear Anne Frank shirts during the warm-up for their match against Bologna on Wednesday night, Ansa news agency reported.

The club had considered temporarily adding the Star of David to their strip, as suggested by Italy’s former prime minister Matteo Renzi.

In addition extracts from Anne Frank's diary will be read out before all of Italy's mid-week fixtures, the Italian Football Federation said.

The Anne Frank pictures, which were found alongside anti-Semitic slogans stuck to barriers in the Lazio ultras’ section, drew fierce condemnation in Italy and abroad.

“There are no words to condemn such a shameful gesture,” said the director of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Jerusalem, Efraim Zuroff. “It is trivialization of the Shoah, transforming an inhuman tragedy into a simple squabble between fans.”

Anti-Semitism has long been a feature of Lazio-Roma rivalry. The Anne Frank image has been circulating among Lazio supporters since at least the early 2000s, alongside chants such as “AS Roma Juden Club” and “Auschwitz is your hometown, the ovens are your houses”.

Some Roma fans have proved no better, using slogans such as “Anne Frank supports Lazio”.

Lazio’s fans found themselves banned from their section of the stadium they share with Roma after they were heard chanting racist taunts at a rival club’s black players early this month.

The two-game ban forced them to sit in Roma’s section for their match against Cagliari last Sunday, which is where the anti-Semitic stickers were found.

The club will use all means to identify those responsible, Lotito said, including surveillance cameras.  Police and the Italian Football Federation are investigating.

But Lazio’s hardcore ‘Irriducibili’ fan group refused to distance itself, stating they were surprised by the furore.

“There have been other cases which, in our opinion, should deserve much more attention by newspapers and TV,” a statement read.

“We don’t distance ourselves from what we’ve done, we simply wonder why nobody takes our side when we are the victims of these alleged incidents.

“We wonder why nobody talked about our initiatives to remember the victims of terrorism. We think these moves are oriented to block and boycott Lazio’s growth, as they’re one of the best Serie A teams.”

RACISM

Black people in Germany face ‘widespread’ racism, survey finds

In the Afrocensus, a first-of-its-kind survey charting the lived experiences of black people in Germany, the vast majority revealed they experienced 'extensive' discrimination in almost all aspects of public life.

Dr Karamba Diaby
Dr Karamba Diaby, an SPD politician and anti-racism advocate, carries out voluntary work in his constituency of Halle, Saxony-Anhalt. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Hendrik Schmidt

“The results of the Afrocensus indicate that anti-Black racism is widespread in Germany and anchored in institutions,” the authors of the new report said in a press release on Tuesday. “There is no area of life in which discrimination and racism are not extensive problems.”

Though the overwhelming majority of respondents said they had experienced discrimination at least ‘sometimes’ in almost all areas of life, housing was the area where they said they were discriminated against most often.

Just two percent of respondents to the Afrocensus said they had ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ experienced racism in the housing market, compared to more than 90 percent who said they had experienced it ‘often’ or ‘very often’.

READ ALSO: ‘Black lives need to matter in Germany’ New project to uncover racism in everyday life

Experiences with police and security personnel also counted among areas of life where racism was particularly prevalent: 88 percent of respondents had experienced discrimination from security staff ‘often’ or ‘very often’, while around 85 percent had had the same experience with police.

More than 85 percent had also experienced racism in their education or in the workplace ‘often’ or ‘very often’ in Germany. One in seven had lost their job during the Covid crisis. 

According to the report, 90 percent of respondents had also experienced having their hair grabbed, while more than half (56 percent) had been stopped by the police or asked for drugs by strangers.

Meanwhile, 80 percent said people had made comments about the colour of their skin or sexualised comments about their race on dating apps. A vast majority – 90 percent – also revealed they hadn’t been believed when they’d spoken out about racism in the past, or that people had said they were “too sensitive”. 

READ ALSO: OPINION: My experiences of everyday racism in Germany

In spite of widespread discrimination, almost half (47 percent) of the respondents were engaged and active in their community – mostly carrying out some form of social or voluntary work.

First of its kind

Based on wide-ranging data, the findings paint a vivid and concerning picture of what life is like for the one million or so black people living in Germany today.

To produce the report, researchers from Berlin-based Black community group Each One Teach One and Citizens for Europe conducted an extended survey of 6,000 black people from the Africans and Afrodiasporic community to try and discover more about on the everyday lives and experiences of this group. The survey was carried out between July and September 2020. 

It represents one of the first attempts to gather a wealth of quantitative data on this subject, and as such offers some of the first truly scientific insights into anti-Black racism in modern Germany.

“With the Afrocensus, we have succeeded in doing exactly what has long been demanded within the black community for a long time: making the realities of our lives visible within the framework of qualitative, but above all quantitative research,” Dr. Pierrette Herzberger-Fofana und Dr. Karamba Diaby wrote in a foreword to the report. 

Diaby, a high-profile politician within the centre-left SPD party, was one of only two Afro-German politicians in parliament when he first took his seat in 2013. He has since become known for promoting political engagement and empowerment within the migrant and black community. 

In January 2020, an unknown gunman fired shots through the window of his constituency office in Halle, Saxony-Anhalt, in a suspected racially motivated attack. 

READ ALSO: How people with migrant backgrounds remain underrepresented in German politics

Since the Second World War, Germany has avoided gathering data that allows people to be traced by ethnicity as a means of protecting persecuted groups.

However, critics say this approach only works to make the issues faced by these groups invisible. 

Writing on Twitter, Daniel Gyamerah, Division Lead at Citizens For Europe, called for an “action plan for tackling anti-Black racism and for empowering black, African and Afrodiasporic people” and the establishment of advice centres for people facing racism and discrimination.

More research into the intersectional experience of black people in Germany is needed, he added. 

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