Karamba Diaby is the only member of the federal parliament of African origin / Photo: Femi Awoniyi

Germany: Condemnations trail arson attack on Black MP’s office

A fire broke out on Wednesday at a building in the eastern German city of Halle (Saale) that houses the constituency office of Dr Karamba Diaby, an SPD Member of the Federal Parliament. The police suspects that the fire was deliberately set and a suspected perpetrator has been arrested.

According to reports, witnesses noticed flames at the building in Große Märkerstraße late on Wednesday evening and alerted the emergency services. They reportedly saw a suspicious man in front of the house and detained him until the police arrived. The 55-year-old is in custody, according to the police. The fire brigade extinguished the fire after a short time but not before damaging the entrance door and the floor in the entrance area of the house.

“The act outrages and angers me very much. And also because the alleged perpetrator is already known to me as well as to the police,” Dr Karamba Diaby said in a statement.

The fire damaged the entrance door and the floor in the entrance area of the house, according to the police/Photo: Karamby Diaby/Facebook

“I have filed several criminal complaints against him for numerous offences (including racist insults). I expect that the investigations will lead quickly and consistently to reliable results,” the only MP of African origin in the current Bundestag added.

“As in the past, I will not be intimidated. My office will continue to be an open meeting place and a safe workplace for my team. As a member of parliament directly elected by more than 42,000 citizens of Halle, I know that the people of this city strongly support me,” Diaby said. “I thank the courageous passers-by for their quick intervention – it was the only way to prevent something worse!”

The incident has been condemned by prominent leaders in the country.

The SPD chairperson Saskia Esken expressed her horror and she described the incident as a “cowardly attack”, adding that it was an “attack on local democracy that requires the strong condemnation of all democrats”.

Saxony-Anhalt’s Minister President Reiner Haseloff has also condemned the arson. “Attacks on the offices of politicians and democratic institutions are intended to contribute to the uncertainty of those in positions of responsibility as well as the population,” said the CDU politician. He called for the quick completion of investigations and that the perpetrator should be brought to justice.

Dr Karamba Diaby (middle), flanked by Kazeem Ojoye of the Nigerian community Bayern (left) and Amal Abbass of Tubman Network Germany at an event in Halle in March 2023/Photo: Femi Awoniyi

“It is shocking to learn that a politician whom so many people value and love as a committed representative of their interests has become the target of such an attack. I strongly condemn this act and would like to express my solidarity with Mr Diaby and all the affected staff in his office,” Dr Sylvie Nantcha, chairperson of The African Network of Germany, said.

“We must not allow such acts of violence to threaten our democratic system and to terrify politicians and their staff,” she added.

“I would also like to express my respect for the courageous passers-by who were able to apprehend the alleged perpetrator,” Ms Nantcha said.

“I hope that the investigation will be carried out quickly and without any gaps and that the perpetrator will be brought to justice. It is important that we as a society send a clear signal against violence and extremism and work together for a strong democracy.”

Senegalese-born Diaby, who was first voted into the federal parliament in 2013, has repeatedly been subjected to massive threats in the past, presumably from the right-wing extremist scene. For example, shots were fired at his office premises in 2020, endangering his staff members.

Femi Awoniyi

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