In recent years, the world has seen rise in far right terrorism, and Germany is not exempt from this trend. According to Germany’s domestic security agency, the Federal Office of the Protection of the Constitution, there are around 12,700 far-right extremists who are “oriented toward violence.” This radicalization is not simply present in the fringe groups of society. Germany’s Military and Police have also seen a rise in right-wing extremism within their departments. Though this may not seem as a surprise, since the military and police have already been under scrutiny for racial profiling, this development is alarming as it demonstrates the extent to which this dangerous ideology has spread.
Clearly, there needs to be political and societal intervention in order to curb this extremist terrorism. However, an area that is often overlooked in favor of offensive action is the need to support those who have been victims of these attacks. There is a lack of safe spaces for victims of racially motivated violence, especially when those acts of violence were committed by the police. In the widely isolating world of COVID-19, senior fellow Walid Ahmed Khan Malik has organized “Candle Light Döner,” a virtual safe space that aims to educate and empower. Through this platform, victims are able to share their experiences and communities are encouraged to discuss issues such as racism, police violence, and mental health. Candle Light Döner provides a safe space for intimate and often emotional dialogue concerning both the physical and mental security of victims.
On 19 February 2020, Ferhat Unvar was murdered alongside nine people of color in a massacre by a far-right extremist that targeted two shisha bars in Hanau, a city near Frankfurt am Main, Hesse, Germany. The victims were Said Nesar Hashemi, Vili Viorel Păun, Mercedes Kierpacz, Sedat Gürbüz, Kaloyan Velkov, Fatih Saraçoğlu, Gökhan Gültekin, and Hamza Kurtović.
Walid was born in Frankfurt am Main. While visiting friends in Hanau, he passed by those very shisha bars. When he came across a message that Ferhat had shared on Facebook, “We are dead only when we are forgotten,” Walid knew that he wanted to act, to help make sure that victims of racist violence were not forgotten.
Caring for ourselves is a major headache for racists. Facilitate yourself and your community with safer spaces and resources that enable self-care, rehabilitation and self-preservation from any racist environment.
Walid plans to hold another edition of this project, this time named “Candle Light Biryani,” the name inspired by a rice dish from the Indian subcontinent. This meeting will cover topics including genocide, masculinity, and racism. In addition to hosting talks from experts, “Candle Light Biryani” will be a platform for anyone affected by racial violence in Germany.