Hate speech "inferno" on Germany's social mediaMuslim students face Islamophobia after meeting CDU deputy
Nada Knani and her fellow scholarship holders had prepared well for their February 7 digital meeting with Norbert Rottgen, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU). The university students had worked on various topics in small groups: environmental policy, the CDU after the Merkel era and managing the coronavirus pandemic. They had a lot of questions ready.
But these beneficiaries of the Avicenna Studienwerk, a German scholarship organisation for Muslim students and researchers, were not at all prepared for the torrent of online hostility, hate and provocation that they would face after the discussion. Rottgen had posted a picture of the digital meeting on social media platforms, showing 25 young people, some wearing headscarves.
"Once it had started, we knew it was not going to stop," said Nada Knani, a 22-year-old organiser of the meeting. "More and more comments came, many of them full of hate," she continued. "Things like that are shared in far-right groups; they organise concerted action there. It was an inferno."
Knani and her fellow students asked Rottgen to obscure the names of the participants. He then deleted any posts that allowed the students to be identified. "It is unbelievable what hate is directed at young people because of their beliefs," he wrote. "I found our discussion very fruitful and recommend such exchanges to everyone."