Islamophobia In Germany

The Rose Monday parade is the highlight of the Carnival season in Cologne. A million or more people line the streets to see floats–generally political, mostly satirical, often scatological–go by. This year’s parade is scheduled for February 15, but there has been a change in plans:

A German carnival has dropped plans to build a “Charlie Hebdo” float with a cartoonist forcing a pencil into the barrel of a terrorist’s gun, after receiving messages from locals worried about safety if the float went on show.

Jitters about public displays of words or images that might anger some Muslims have risen in Europe since Islamist gunmen attacked the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket in Paris on Jan. 7-9, killing 17 people. …

“We want all visitors, locals and participants in Rose Monday’s carnival parade to freely experience a joyful carnival without any worries. We don’t want a satirical float, which weighs on the freedom and lighthearted mood of carnival,” the organizers said in a statement on Thursday.

Note how tasteful, even chaste, the proposed float would have been: a Charlie Hebdo guy putting a pencil into a terrorist’s gun barrel. Heck, it would have been the most tasteful float in the parade. And the idea that “[w] don’t want a satirical float” is absurd. Check these out, from past Cologne Rose Monday parades:


That’s German Chancellor Angela Merkel emerging from Uncle Sam’s rear end, so the authorities evidently don’t pose much of a threat. Merkel again, this time with Sarkozy:


This one, about “right terror,” apparently was deemed “lighthearted” enough. It lampoons the failure of Germany’s police and courts to apprehend a neo-Nazi terrorist group:


So the exclusion of the Charlie Hebdo float is really quite extraordinary. Here’s something else I don’t get: the float was expressly directed at terrorists–the guy with the gun–not Muslims in general. Since terrorism has nothing to do with Islam, why would the parade’s organizers fear that Muslims would be provoked to violence?

The word “Islamophobia” is apt, unlike, say “homophobia.” A great many people are, indeed, afraid of Muslims. Unfortunately, as the Charlie Hebdo incident shows, along with many others, that fear is not entirely irrational.


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