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“Viewing diversity as the norm”

Ali Can is committed to fighting racism. He explains what can be effective and what tolerance means to him.

Report: Maren van Treel, 12.11.2021
Ali Can is committed to fighting racism.
Ali Can is committed to fighting racism. © Katholische Bischofskonferenz

People and their ideas shape Germany. Through our #GermanyinPerson campaign we will be introducing you to various faces of Germany. We will show you how these people with their individual perspectives and different backgrounds are shaping society.

Ali Can (28) came to Germany with his parents from Turkey when he was two years old. He is committed to fighting racism.

“To me, tolerance means giving other people, groups and views the space that one also claims for oneself. I believe that Germany, by comparison with many other countries, is very tolerant towards people who are not of German origin or are not Christian.

However, I also believe that some people’s understanding of what tolerance means is rather outdated in Germany. By this I mean that a certain group of people – often white Germans without a migration background – applies higher standards to migrants. Migrants frequently have to prove themselves before they are regarded as belonging.

To combat racism it is helpful for people of all kinds of different origins to meet, for example in schools, sports clubs and city neighbourhoods. Where diversity is the norm, migrants will also be seen as belonging. From 2016 to 2018, as part of my ‘Hotline for Concerned Citizens’, I offered people who were scared of refugees the chance to talk to me. Later, as a ‘migrant you can trust’ I told people in city centres my story. In early 2019 I set up the VielRespektZentrum in Essen, where very different people can have daily encounters – be they old, young, Catholic, Moslem, refugees, homosexual, disabled, able-bodied. The most important thing is for us to view diversity as the norm.

Where diversity is the norm, migrants will also be seen as belonging.
Ali Can

To fight racism we also need to strengthen those concerned. We must give them the space to tell us about their experiences, we must believe them, and we must support them in their fight against racism. And it is important for there to be more BIPoC (Black, Indigenous and People of Colour) in certain areas, such as in politics and in leadership positions in companies and authorities. They can then stand up against racism there and encourage others who are affected to strive to reach such positions themselves.”

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