Photo: Tilman Schenk / WDR
Because of participating in an Al-Kuds demo seven years ago, the journalist Nemi El-Hassan is not supposed to present the WDR program "Quarks" for the time being.
Several hundred publicists, cultural workers and scientists have now expressed their solidarity with the journalist in a public letter.
The debate has "lost all measure and balance," it says there.
Nemi El-Hassan is said to be "a target of hatred and agitation because of her Palestinian origins and Muslim identity." In the reporting, for example, photos are "constantly" used that showed El-Hassan with a headscarf, "although she has not been wearing it for a long time." The signatories asked the WDR to resume working with the presenter for the program "Quarks".
The undersigned include well-known journalists such as Carolin Emcke and Jakob Augstein, cultural scientists such as Aleida Assmann, Michael Rothberg and Kai Hafez. In addition, several activists, authors and other cultural workers from different religions, such as Ali Can, Max Czollek, Deborah Feldman, Igor Levit and Saba-Nur Cheema - the educational director of the Anne Frank educational institution spoke of a #CancelCulture towards Muslim women.
It is not clear from the letter who the initiator of the letter was. In response to a request from SPIEGEL, the author and co-signer Fabian Wolff wrote that the letter went back "to the initiative of a group of journalists, cultural workers and academics who spontaneously networked and who all signed the letter." According to Wolff, it is a “very broad alliance”: “As a signatory, I can only speak for myself.” In social networks, “many right-wing positions against El-Hassan” have been voiced: “As a Jew, I personally signed to turn against this smear campaign and not to leave the right to interpret anti-Semitism.if someone took part in an Al-Kuds demonstration and would still be running today «.
In the meantime, there has also been criticism on Twitter. The list of signatories reads "like a best-of of those who downplay anti-Semitism," wrote Aras-Nathan Keul, Federal Chairman of the Young Forum and member of the Presidium of the German-Israeli Society.
The list includes signatories "who are only too happy to legitimize participation in anti-Semitic protests," wrote SPD politician Igor Matviyets. "If it were also about respect for Jewish people, the list would look different." One of the signatories is cabaret artist Idil Baydar. After a comment in the social app Clubhouse, the German Association of Journalists accused her of playing down the Holocaust this year. CDU general secretary Paul Ziemiak had also raised anti-Semitism allegations against Carolin Emcke in the summer after a guest speech at the party congress of the Green Party - but withdrew them after a conversation with the journalist.
The WDR had suspended the start of El-Hassan as a presenter on the program "Quarks" after it became known, among other things, that the journalist had participated in the annual Al-Kuds demonstration in Berlin in 2014.
In the past, anti-Semitic slogans had been repeated there, and participants had shown symbols of the Lebanese Hezbollah movement.
El-Hassan has since distanced himself from the demonstration.
In a tweet, the presenter admitted that she had made mistakes.
At the demo she did not utter any anti-Semitic slogans.
In an interview with SPIEGEL, El-Hassan said she was ashamed of this time.
Today, however, she can no longer rule out the fact that she said things at the time that serve hostility to Israel.
The letter of solidarity states that El-Hassan has "credibly demonstrated her change".
There must be room for admitting mistakes.
Otherwise “people in our society would not be allowed to develop positively”.
The WDR has so far not commented on the letter.
In response to inquiries by SPIEGEL, the station wrote that it was "aware of the support for Nemi El-Hassan, expressed in an open letter of solidarity."
In terms of content, the WDR is currently not commenting on this.
The broadcaster plans to "examine the matter carefully and without external pressure and make a decision."