Posted on July 22, 2022

New Head of Anti-Discrimination Agency Elected in Germany

Associated Press, July 7, 2022

Germany’s parliament on Thursday elected as the government’s new anti-discrimination commissioner a journalist whose nomination last month had sparked controversy over her comments on Germans who don’t have immigrant roots.

Ferda Ataman, 42, was elected as head of the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency with a tight majority. She was nominated by the government, but members of the Free Democrats, part of the governing coalition, and lawmakers with the opposition conservative Christian Democrats and the far-right Alternative for Germany had sharply criticized the choice.

They questioned Ataman’s suitability for the post, calling her, among other things, a left-wing activist.

Ataman, whose parents immigrated from Turkey, was especially attacked for an op-ed she wrote for Spiegel Online magazine in 2020, in which she defended calling Germans without immigrant roots “potatoes.” The term is sometimes used in a derogatory way for ethnic Germans.

Supporters of Ataman — especially members of the governing Green Party and Chancellor Olaf Scholz’ Social Democrats — called the accusations against her slanderous and discriminating, alleging that some of the attacks were racially motivated because she’s a second-generation immigrant.