71-year-old conservative politician Horst Seehofer has been Germany's federal interior minister since March 2018 | Photo: B. Riegert/DW
71-year-old conservative politician Horst Seehofer has been Germany's federal interior minister since March 2018 | Photo: B. Riegert/DW

A fake website about Germany's asylum policy has attracted attention and caused some confusion. The website wrongly claims that Interior Minister Horst Seehofer announced that Germany would take in refugees from camps on the Greek Islands. A satire group has since published a letter of confession and an open letter to the federal government.

"We want to stop the suffering at the borders of the European Union before the upcoming federal elections."

This sentence, marking an alleged turnaround in Interior Minister Horst Seehofer's hitherto conservative asylum policy, is from a satirical video published on Tuesday (June 29) on a website called "endlich dahoam" ("finally at home").

A corresponding statement claimed that Seehofer has made a "concession to his Christian faith." Caused by his "love for one's native country, security and humanitarianism", this concession has now resulted in his order to "launch an orderly and safe entry to Germany for those seeking protection," starting with the Kara Tepe camp on Lesbos. "The Interior Ministry is prepared for the distribution of the refugees."

According to news agency dpa, the "endlich dahoam" website was registered on Jun 23, 2021. "Dahoam" is a word commonly used in Bavaria, Switzerland and Austria.

Letter of concession

In an email sent out at noon on Wednesday, a group of satirists and activists said they were behind the campaign. Calling themselves the "Creative Sisters United", the group allegedly consists of a small number of performance artists.

Screenshot of satirical video about Germany taking in refugees from the Greek Islands | Credit: Creative Sisters United
Screenshot of satirical video about Germany taking in refugees from the Greek Islands | Credit: Creative Sisters United


In the email, the activists say their aim with the campaign is to create attention and a debate about the dire situation of people living in migrant camps at Europe's external borders. Another aim is to change Section 23, Paragraph 1 of Germany's Residence Act, which mandates that the granting of humanitarian residence permits requires the approval of the federal interior ministry.

Along with the concession, the organizers published an open letter addressed to the federal government signed by politicians, journalists and people working in the cultural sector. According to the organizers of the campaign, the video showing Seehofer's purported change of heart was shared more than 50,000 times on Instagram alone.

The spokesperson of the interior ministry, Steve Alter, set the record straight Tuesday afternoon, tweeting that the website was "not ... published by the federal Interior Ministry" nor by Seehofer.

No state-level resettlement

Seehofer has so far rejected demands to change Section 23, Paragraph 1 of Germany's Residence Act. He also stopped advances by state governments like Berlin, Bremen and Thuringia to resettle migrants and refugees rescued in the Mediterranean Sea and stuck on the Greek Aegean Islands. The German "Safe Harbors" coalition also declared it would take in migrants and refugees rescued from distress at sea or stranded in overcrowded camps on the EU's external borders.

On Wednesday, Seehofer called last Friday's deadly knife attack in Würzburg an example of a failed attempt to integrate the suspect into German society. "When a young man lives in a homeless shelter for six years without anybody watching and looking after him, I cannot be content with our politics. The awareness is lacking," Seehofer told the Augsburger Allgemeine daily.

With dpa

 

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