GERMANY’S FIRST BLACK AFRICAN-BORN MP TO STAND DOWN AFTER RACIST ABUSE

The first black African-born MP to enter the German parliament has announced he will not be standing in next year’s federal election, weeks after he revealed the hate mail, including racist slurs and death threats, he and his staff had received.

Karamba Diaby, 62, who entered the Bundestag in 2013 in a moment hailed as historic by equality campaigners, said he wanted to spend more time with his family and to make room for younger politicians.

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But his announcement comes just weeks after he laid out a litany of hate messages he and his parliamentary staff had received.

Diaby said the racist slurs and death threats were “not the main reasons” for his decision, having frequently emphasised he would not be cowed by threats. But they are widely believed to have played a part.

In interviews, Diaby has emphasised an increasingly hostile mood in parliament and society, blaming the 2017 entry of the far-right populist AfD to the Bundestag.

“Since 2017, the tone in the German parliament has become harsher,” he told the Berlin Playbook podcast of the news magazine Politico. “We hear aggressive speeches from colleagues of the AfD.

“We hear derogatory and hurtful content in these contributions. That is truly a totally new situation compared to the period between 2013 and 2017. This aggressive style of talking is fertile breeding ground for the violence and aggression on the streets.”

Diaby, of the Social Democrats (SPD), entered parliament alongside Charles M Huber, who sat for the Christian Democrats for just one parliamentary term. They were the first black members of the Bundestag and their entry was hailed as groundbreaking and historic by equal rights campaigners.

Diaby, who has a PhD in chemistry, was born in Senegal and moved to the then East Germany in 1985.

He has increasingly faced racist abuse in recent years. His constituency office in Halle, Saxony Anhalt, has been an arson target, and has had bullets fired through the window. Some staff have faced blackmail attempts to stop them working for him and have been subjected to abuse and threats, Diaby said.

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“In the last few years I’ve faced several murder threats. This has now overstepped the mark,” he said. “The hatred that the AfD sows every day with its misanthropic narratives is reflected in concrete psychological and physical violence. This endangers the cohesion of our society. We cannot simply accept this.”

Writing to party colleagues on Tuesday, Diaby promised to remain active in the SPD, especially in the 15 months leading to the election, saying: “We face big challenges and hard work.”

He added: “At the same time, I’m looking forward to having more time for my family and friends and our allotment.”

• This article was amended on 10 July 2024. An earlier version stated that Karamba Diaby was Germany’s first African-born MP; in fact, this was Kai-Uwe von Hassel, president of the Bundestag from 1969-72, who was born in present-day Tanzania.

2024-07-03T17:01:13Z dg43tfdfdgfd