Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Germany's First Two African MPs Enter Bundestag

Germany's first two black MPs enter parliament

Karamba Diaby and Charles M Huber arrive in Bundestag in moment hailed as historic by equality campaigners

Philip Oltermann in Berlin
theguardian.com, Tuesday 24 September 2013 11.03 EDT

Germany's first MP of African descent said he was looking forward to the challenge of working in the Bundestag and that he would campaign for more equal opportunities in education.

In an interview at the German parliament Karamba Diaby, 51, of the Social Democratic party of Germany, said: "I myself am the product of equal opportunities and was given the chance to study as an orphan, and I want to make a difference for other people in this area too."

Diaby and Charles M Huber, of the Christian Democratic Union, are the first two black members of the Bundestag, a development hailed as a "historic moment" by equal opportunity campaigners. In addition, Angela Merkel's party will also include a Muslim MP for the first time.

Born in Senegal, Diaby moved to East Germany in 1985 and went on to become a chemist. He will represent the town of Halle in the former east. Huber, a TV actor born in Munich whose father is Senegalese, will represent the southern city of Darmstadt.

Cemile Giousouf, 35, whose parents were part of the Turkish minority in Greece and moved to Leverkusen 40 years ago, will represent Hagen in North-Rhine Westphalia. There have been Muslim politicians in Germany's parliament since 1994, but Giousouf will be the first representative for the Christian Democrats.

The number of MPs with an immigrant background has risen from 21 to 34, with the leftwing Die Linke having the highest percentage of multicultural politicians in their ranks followed by the Green party.

Mekonnen Mesghena, a migration policy expert for the Böll Foundation, described the arrival of black Germans in the Bundestag as a landmark moment: "Germany has a colonial history that stretches back to the 19th century, yet until now black Germans have had no political representation."

A detailed breakdown of the ethnic background of German citizens has only been published since 2005, but there are estimated to be about 500,000 people of recent African descent and between 3.8 million and 4.3 million Muslims living in Germany.

One of the policy areas that Diaby, Huber and Giousouf will be expected to debate in parliament is the introduction of dual citizenship, which has been advocated by the SPD and the Greens. At the moment, German citizens born to non-German nationals have to choose one citizenship before they turn 23.

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