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October 30, 2018

Thousands of Cultural Workers Demand Resignation of Germany's Interior Minister Horst Seehofer

BERLIN, GERMANY—Nearly 8,700 members of Germany’s art world are rallying against the country’s Interior Minister Horst Seehofer. Artists, gallerists, curators, and architects are among the signees of a petition that accuses Seehofer of sabotaging “the working capacity of the federal government” and damaging the “values ​​of [the] constitution.” The cultural producers are demanding that Seehofer—who is also the head of the Christian Social Union (CSU), a conservative regional party whose members make up 7 to 10 percent of voters in Germany’s federal elections—step down.

The petition, titled “Dignity, Responsibility, Democracy” and organized by author Jan Böttcher, director Matthias Luthardt, artist Rebecca Raue, author Moritz Rinke, and director Mathias Schönsee, was sent to Seehofer on Wednesday, October 17. “We are appalled,” the document repeatedly states. It calls Seehofer’s hardline stance on immigration and his response to the violent far-right demonstrations in Chemnitz, the German state of Saxony, in August—when thousands took to the streets to protest the murder of a German citizen allegedly by an Iraqi and a Syrian asylum seeker—as unacceptable and describes his behavior as “provocative, backward, and undignified towards humans.”

The document cites German media reports, which state that Seehofer declared in September that the issue of migration was the “mother of all political problems” and that he would have joined the protesters in Chemnitz if he wasn’t a minister as examples showing that Seehofer is unaware of his political responsibilities and is unfit for office. It concludes: “We want a stable democratic society in which all citizens find their place and those in need of protection are helped to the best of their abilities. This country needs a federal policy that is aware of humanitarian values.”

Among the signatories of the petition are artists Ulf Aminde, Monica Bonvicini, Parastou Forouhar, Dani Gal, Jana Gunstheimer, Natascha Sadr Haghighian, Ruprecht von Kaufmann, Antje Majewski, Michaela Melian, Josephine Meckseper, Marcel Odenbach, Manfred Pernice, Karin Sander, Sirin Şimşek, and Rosemarie Trockel, and dealers Barbara Thumm, Barbara Gross, Nicole Hackert, Max Mayer, Tobias Naehring, Andreas Osarek, Rupert Pfab, and Deborah Schamoni, among others, and curators Nicolaus Schafhausen, Bettina Steinbrügge, Stefan Kalmár, and Janneke de Vries.

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