The Berlin Film Festival has withdrawn its invitation to politicians from the Alternative for Germany (AfD) to attend the opening ceremony of the Berlinale on February 15. The decision was taken following the negative repercussions of the invitation.
The withdrawal of the invitation was announced in a statement published on social media and on the festival's official website on February 8.
Berlinale’s director duo Mariëtte Rissenbeek and Carlo Chatrian both stated that especially in light of the revelations that have been made in recent weeks about explicitly anti-democratic positions and individual politicians of the AfD, it is important to take an unequivocal stand in favor of an open democracy.
Therefore the directors have written to all previously invited AfD politicians and informed them that they are not welcome at the Berlinale.
The festival's management said that the decision was taken after intense discussion in recent days in the cultural sector, in the press and social media, as well as within the Berlinale team about the invitations from AfD politicians.
The statement emphasizes that the commitment to a free and tolerant society and the stance against right-wing extremism are part of the Berlinale's DNA. For decades, the Berlinale has been committed to democratic values and against all forms of right-wing extremism, the statement said.
The organization also stated it observes with concern how anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim resentment, hate speech, and other anti-democratic and discriminatory attitudes are on the rise in Germany. It adds that the AfD and many of its members and representatives hold views that are deeply contrary to the fundamental values of democracy.
On Berlinale’s website it says that in times when right-wing extremists are moving into parliaments, the festival wants to take a clear position by taking a clear stance with disinvitation of the AfD.
Berlinale also highlights that discussing how to deal with AfD politicians affects many German organizations and festivals. This debate must be conducted by society as a whole and together with all democratic parties, concludes the statement published on the official Berlinale website.
On the social platform X, the festival added: For the Berlinale and the team, one thing is certain: We cannot and must not roll out the proverbial red carpet for right-wing extremists.
AfD chairwoman comments on the disinvitation
Last Friday, AfD parliamentary group leader Kristin Brinker criticized the decision as a cultural-political warning while addressing the media representatives with a statement.
Brinker stated that with its decision, the Berlinale is bowing to the public pressure built up by cultural-political activists over the past few days. Brinker also added that the decision was not just an exclusion of AfD politicians but also an exclusion of their supporters.
They are excluding people who are at odds with the prevailing conditions and are turning to us, the AfD, in the hope of revitalizing democracy, commented Brinker.
The AfD members received the invitations to the opening ceremony because the Berlinale normally gives a quota of invitations to the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and Media and the Berlin Senate, which are then distributed to the democratically elected members of all parties in the Bundestag and Bundesrat.
Far-right protests in Germany
The Berlinale's decision to disinvite AfD politicians comes amid a wave of protests that have gripped Germany in recent weeks. Thousands of people have taken to the streets against the AfD and in favor of democracy. In Berlin, the capital of Germany, an estimated 150.000 people took part in a protest on the 3rd of February.
The wave of protests follows a recent report by the investigative network Correctiv on a secret meeting between senior AfD members and wealthy German corporate figures, where they discussed a plot for the mass deportation of millions of immigrants.
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