“Fridays for future” activist accuses minister of inaction

Merle Bosing, Fridays for Future Dortmund, at the church congress © Caroline Seidel

Climate protection was a central theme not only at "Fridays for Future" in Aachen, but also at the Kirchentag on Friday. At halftime, the discussion also focused on hatred against politicians and violence against women. But a call for hope received particularly loud applause.

With demands for more speed in climate protection and resistance against hate, the Protestant Kirchentag in Dortmund reached its halfway point on Friday. Dortmund-based "Fridays for Future" activist Merle Bosing accused Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze (SPD) of political inaction in a panel discussion.

Congolese Nobel Peace Prize laureate Denis Mukwege called for more action by the international community against sexual violence in conflicts. At the same time, he called on the Kirchentag visitors to be grateful.

"Something other than talking has hardly happened so far"

While thousands of students from around the world took to the streets at the "Fridays for Future" demonstration in Aachen on Friday, 17-year-old activist Bosing met with German Environment Minister Schulze at the Kirchentag. The SPD politician announced that her climate protection law should be binding on current and future governments. "I want us to have very clear responsibilities for who has to reduce CO2 and how much," Schulze said.

In contrast, Bosing criticized that young people have been protesting for the climate for more than half a year, "but something other than talking has hardly happened in politics so far". Westphalian President Annette Kurschus, who is also deputy chairwoman of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), called on the churches to take concrete action against global warming. It is not enough to support "Fridays for Future": "We have to put our own house in order, there is still a lot of room for improvement."

Mukwege: Appeal for more gratitude

Congolese Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mukwege made an appeal for more gratitude to Kirchentag visitors. "You have peace, you have democracy, you can express yourselves freely," said the gynecologist who operates on women raped in eastern Congo. At the same time, Mukwege urgently renewed his call to end impunity for rapists in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Until Sunday, the 37. German Protestant Church Congress in Dortmund under the motto "What trust" invites to panels, prayers, workshops and concerts. In so-called Bible studies, in which well-known personalities interpret a passage of Scripture, church representatives and journalists warned on Friday against the consequences of hatred and agitation.

Bedford-Strohm: "Hate has consequences"

"When massive and systematic mistrust is sown against people in political responsibility, and people are attacked and accused on this basis, then the poison can even have a deadly effect," said EKD Council President Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, referring to the assassination of Kassel District President Walter Lubcke. Journalist Dunja Hayali also said Luebcke's murder by a suspected right-wing extremist showed "that hatred also has consequences".

In view of right-wing extremist threatening e-mails against several local politicians, Dortmund Mayor Ullrich Sierau (SPD) called for determined resistance. "One must not give in to these birds," said Sierau, who according to him receives threatening letters himself.

"Do not be afraid – an encouragement."

Despite all the threat scenarios, it was journalist Heribert Prantl who earned enthusiastic applause with his speech entitled "Do not be afraid – an encouragement". The "Suddeutsche Zeitung" journalist called for more humanity in refugee policy, resistance to populism and courage for solutions in climate policy. He ended his speech, which was celebrated with much applause, with the words: "The power of hope is the power against fear."

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