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First African-Born Member of German Parliament Won’t Seek Re-election

First African-Born Member of German Parliament Won’t Seek Re-election

Germany’s first African-born member of Parliament said this week that he would not seek office again in next year’s general elections. Although he played down racism as a factor, he made the announcement a short time after his staff released the contents of a slew of hate mail and death threats that his office had received.

The lawmaker, Karamba Diaby, a 62-year-old Senegal native first elected in 2013, said in a letter written to his colleagues that he wanted to make way for a new generation of politicians and that racism was “not the main reason” for his decision. But he has been outspoken about the abuse he has experienced, which has markedly increased in volume and tenor in recent years.

Bullets were fired through the window of his district office in 2020, and the office was a target of arson last year.

“I can’t wipe all this away,” Mr. Diaby was reported as saying in an interview, according to the Funke Media Group, a major German newspaper and magazine publisher. “These are not small things.”

The election over a decade ago of Mr. Diaby, who holds a Ph.D. in chemistry and emigrated to East Germany in 1985, was at the time hailed as a major win for equality. Mr. Diaby, who belongs to Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democrats party, cited a desire to spend more time with family as a main reason for his departure.

Yet the far-right Alternative for Germany party, known as AfD, has been far outpolling his center-left party in his constituency.

Mr. Diaby has blamed the rising AfD, whose populist platform won them second place in Germany in the recent European Union elections, for the spike in racism and threats.

“In the last few years, I’ve faced several murder threats,” he said in a podcast interview with this week. “This has now overstepped the mark.”

“The hatred that the AfD sows every day with its misanthropic narratives is reflected in concrete psychological and physical violence,” he added. “This endangers the cohesion of our society. We cannot simply accept this.”

The city of Halle, which Mr. Diaby represents, is in the state of Saxony-Anhalt, one of the eastern states where the nationalist and anti-immigrant AfD dominates.

Just last year, Mr. Diaby struck a very different tone against those who had threatened him.

“Over 42,000 people in Halle voted for me,” he said in an interview with Der Spiegel newsmagazine. “Quitting would mean giving their votes less weight than those of a hateful minority.”

“I would never allow that to happen,” he added.

Christopher F. Schuetze contributed reporting.

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