Germany - A study on "non-racist schools" found that schools are being attacked by the right

Around 3,500 schools across Germany bear the sign “School without Racism - School with Courage” on their doors. The initiative of the Berlin Aktion Courage association has existed for a good quarter of a century since the Immanuel-Kant-Gymnasium in Dortmund was the first school to join the network 26 years ago. These schools deal regularly with the subject of racism on a voluntary basis and commit to at least one suitable campaign per year.

Not only the network, but also the participating schools themselves were repeatedly attacked. The attacks are now increasingly coming from AfD groups, such as a study by the Dortmund University of Applied Sciences on behalf of Aktion Courage association has determined.

"AfD politicians work regularly on the network," says Professor Dierk Borstel, social scientist at the Dortmund University of Applied Sciences, who carried out the study. Together with graduate Jennifer Brückmann, he evaluated, among other things, inquiries and motions from parliamentary documents. The aim of the party is to make contempt by permanently marking the Courage Schools negatively in public, for example as "indoctrinated to the left", and to smash the financial basis of the network. Also against representatives of the network in the parliaments, but also on social media channels personally defamatory. The AfD avails itself of a variety of means, such as inquiries in various state parliaments and in the Bundestag, press releases, speeches in state parliaments.

Overall, however, the attacks on member schools were by no means limited to political framing and parliamentary work. "Schools without racism - school with courage are sprayed with swastikas on the signs, pupils from active groups are threatened on their way to school and applications are being made in parliaments to stop funding our work," summarizes Sanem Kleff, head of the Initiative that, according to the study, like other members of the federal coordination, is repeatedly exposed to personal defamation. According to Kleff, the network does not see itself as a political actor, neither as “right” nor “left”. "The project is directed against all ideologies of inequality," says the director. In addition to racism, this also included antisemitism, for example, Homophobia and sexism. The schools decided to participate voluntarily.

The network is also repeatedly exposed to criticism and populist tones from the “left”. These are mainly related to the occasion, for example when Courage schools invite AfD politicians to their discussion events or when they address the issue of antisemitism from the left. In contrast to the attacks and criticisms from the right, these are not always conveyed openly. Rather, allies would be sent in advance to convey this criticism without this appearing to be in line with the general politics of the parties. In contrast to the right-wing currents, however, the criticism from the left is not of a fundamental nature towards the basic values ​​of the Courage network.

“In terms of scope, permanence and aggression, the attacks from the 'right' outweigh all other areas of pressure,” summarizes Prof. Dierk Borstel. He also sees this as a threat to civil society engagement. Many of these attacks were aimed at intimidation. Active participants as well as sponsors in the network should be unsettled. This sometimes leads to a hasty retreat and passivity. This harms the social debate and puts civil society under pressure as a whole, warns the social scientist.