“Everyone has the right to work, to freely choose a profession” and “without any difference, for example by race, skin color, gender, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin”. This is what the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says. The German General Equal Treatment Act also prescribes something similar.
But: In reality, the origin, and also the supposed one, often plays a role. For example when choosing a profession.
The case of a young man with an Arabic surname is now causing a sensation. He had applied for an internship at the Berlin office of GKK Architecture and Urban Development.
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In response, he received an email that the office manager apparently wanted to send internally. With the title “The worst rejection letter you can only get”, the applicant made the email public on Facebook on Monday. The names in salutation and greeting are blackened, all you can read is: “Please no Arabs”.
The company is cosmopolitan and international
The Berlin architecture firm presents itself on its website as cosmopolitan and international: In the “Team” area there is a collage with 30 flags – the nationalities of all employees since the office was founded.
The post gradually spread through other channels in social networks. Among other things, the Turkish-born author Bahar Aslan, who also works as a teacher, shared the screenshot of the email on Twitter and Facebook on Wednesday night.
She wrote: “We who were born and grew up here keep feeling that we don’t belong. We are reduced to our supposed origins and always have to prove our affiliation, which is a matter of course. “
ZDF presenter Dunja Hayali also commented on the email on Twitter: With the line “I wish I had an architecture firm!” She shared the screenshot.
The man who applied did not respond to a request from Tagesspiegel until the editorial deadline.
Everything just a misunderstanding?
In the meantime, the architecture firm published a statement, which states: In the case of the mail in question, it is a misunderstanding. The young man applied for an internship, but his application was accidentally assigned to an ongoing job advertisement for projects in China. Very good Chinese language skills are required for this position, as well as project experience in China. Because the applicant had not met the requirements, the application was “sent back to the secretariat with a shortened comment”.
In addition, those responsible from the office had already called the rejected applicant on Tuesday, the letter signed by the managing director continues. The man had accepted the office’s apology and also wanted to accept an invitation to the interview.
Can the waves that the mail makes so smooth?
After the Facebook post had spread online, numerous users had already written a negative Google rating for the architects’ office on Wednesday morning. “Absolutely racist and not 1% cosmopolitan as it is shown on the homepage,” wrote one. “Racist management, impossible to refuse and discriminate against an applicant this century because he has foreign roots (born and raised here!”) Wrote another.
“This shows the ugly face of racism”
Criticism also came from an official body. The anti-discrimination officer of the Senate Department for Education, Youth and Family, Dervis Hizarci, spoke to the Tagesspiegel about the rejection email from the architecture office. He had already been informed of the incident, he said on Wednesday.
“This shows the ugly face of racism and what racism means in concrete terms: no job, no apartment, bad grades. Racism affects people in their everyday lives. ”
Therefore, said Hizarci, it was all the more important to carry out application procedures as anonymously as possible, without names, without photos. Because: “We see that there are clearly negative reactions – due to racism. It is not just a feeling of those affected. It is judged from a hierarchy of power over an entire group. “
Data from the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency shows that there are similar incidents again and again. On its website, the authority provides basic figures on discrimination against people with “foreign-sounding names”. The chances of being invited to an interview are up to 24 percent lower for people with such a name, it says.