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First African-Born German Parliament Member Steps Down Amid Rising Racism

Germany’s African-Born MP steps down. News. Germany’s first African-born member of Parliament announced this week that he will not run for office again in next year’s general elections. Although he downplayed racism as a reason, he made the announcement after receiving hate mail, death threats, and experiencing multiple attacks on his office.

The lawmaker, Karamba Diaby, a 62-year-old from Senegal who was first elected in 2013, wrote to his colleagues that he wanted to make room for new politicians, spend more time with his family, and that racism was “not the main reason” for his decision. However, he has spoken out about the abuse he has faced, which has increased in recent years.

In 2020, bullets were fired through his district office window, and the office was targeted by arson last year. In an interview with The New York Times, Mr. Diaby reiterated his stance but acknowledged that the attacks influenced his decision, particularly the concern for his staff’s safety. “That cannot be brushed aside,” he said. “However, I have stressed that I will never allow myself to be intimidated.”

Mr. Diaby, who has a Ph.D. in chemistry and moved to East Germany in 1985, was elected over a decade ago in what was seen as a major win for equality. He belongs to Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democrat party and cited a desire to spend more time with family as a main reason for his departure.

The far-right Alternative for Germany party (AfD) has been outpolling his center-left party in his constituency. Mr. Diaby has blamed the AfD for the increase in racism and threats, noting their anti-immigrant rhetoric has become louder and more mainstream. He has faced death threats and increasing harassment.

“The speeches are full of hate and denigration and inhumane statements about minorities in Germany. That is very, very noticeable, and the atmosphere is also palpable,” Mr. Diaby said on the day he announced his decision. “I am of the opinion that what we are observing on the streets is an increase in violence. The breeding ground for this is the aggressive and racist speech.

The AfD did not respond to a request for comment on Mr. Diaby’s remarks or decision not to run for re-election.

Mr. Diaby represents the city of Halle in the state of Saxony-Anhalt, one of the eastern states where the AfD is dominant. He vowed to make his remaining time in office count and said he was not worried about appearing to retreat from rising racism, highlighting his long and barrier-breaking career.

“On the contrary, it is an encouragement to many young people,” he said. “Because only if you join in can you change something. So my message is quite the opposite: get involved, help change this society.”