About 200 people took the streets of Cologne on Saturday in a public demonstration against a recent controversial court ruling allowing the use of the word neger (subsequently referred to as the N-word in this report) to describe people of African descent.
The protesters demanded that the use of the derogatory word be made illegal as it degrades Black people.
Participants at the rally, some of whom carried banners saying “Stop N*Word!!” called for the legal classification of the N-word as racist.
“The word stands for racism, discrimination, violence and inequality and is a dirty word,” said the participants at the rally.
Organised by Bündnis14 Afrika e.V. and the Sonnenblumen Community Development Group e.V. and supported by many local anti-racism groups in Cologne, the demonstration was in reaction to the recent verdict of the state constitutional court of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania (Mecklenburg-Vorpommern).
The court had ruled on 19 December that sanctioning the leader of the right-wing AfD group in the state parliament, Nikolaus Kramer, over the use of the N-word amounted to a restriction of his right to free expression.
According to the court, the N-word could only serve to provoke or disparage others depending on the actual context in which the word is used.
The court made the claims while delivering judgement in a case brought before it by Kramer, who had challenged the leadership of the state parliament for calling him to order for the repeated use of the N-word during 2018.
Kramer had used the N-word repeatedly, according to his accounts, quite consciously, during a debate in October 2018 on the abuse of welfare support by asylum-seekers. According to Kramer, he did not want to be prescribed to what a derogatory word was.
“The word evokes bitter memories of moments when someone made me feel like a nigger. You are born Black, but made a n*ger through exclusion, rejection and abuse,” says Jonas Hampl, a spokesman of the organisers of the Cologne action, in a statement. In his address at the rally, he called on Germany to implement the objectives of the International Decade for People of African Descent, 2015–2024, which are ‘recognition, justice and development’. The UN Declaration called on states to adopt specific steps to help to combat racism and xenophobia and to protect its victims.
“The court ruling allows Germans to continue calling People of African descent a word that means a slave. This is disrespectful to humanity and to us as citizens of this country. We are demanding for its abolition and for equal treatment!” Batemona Abeke, a participant at the demonstration, said.
An activist, Charlotte Nzimiro, has started an online signature campaign titled Rechtliche Anerkennung dass der Begriff „Neger“ rassistisch ist! for the classification of the N-word as racist by the Federal Constitutional Court and the State Constitutional Court of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania (Mecklenburg-Vorpommern).
To sign the petition for the classification of the N-word as racist, click here