“Of course we go along with it”

"Our cross has no hooks" – together the Christian churches presented their action © Jann-Jakob Loos (DR)

Under the motto "Our cross has no hooks" the Christian churches participate in the actions in Cologne. From the AfD comes sharp criticism of the protest of the churches. our site documents the reactions of Cologne church representatives.

Monsignor Robert Kleine (Cologne city dean): I think it's a great sign that everyone standing here in the square – different parties and social groups, as well as the churches of different religions – is saying that we respect each other and that tolerance defines this city and the entire society in our country. One can and must also argue politically, but only with words and fairly. There must be no exclusion, no discrimination and above all no racism. In the party, which is holding its federal party conference at the moment, there are always snubs for anti-Semitism and racism. We say that this must not be. We must oppose this. Of course, we also want to open the eyes of sympathizers and show how beautiful colorful diversity is. That we as churches participate in this was a matter of course.

On this day, the people of Cologne show that they don't want to let a party take their city away from them. They show what they actually stand for 365 days a year. It is quite clear, however, that this must be non-violent. The AfD has a right to meet, there should be no blockade, but you can express your opinion. Therefore, non-violent demonstrations and rallies may and must be.

I can actually only hope that people slowly feel that the AfD are pied pipers and that cheap polemics are sprayed without the party offering solutions. Thank goodness it looks like the approval rating for the party has dropped to around eight percent. As a church, we must look at where human rights and human dignity are being attacked. In my eyes, this is the case with the party, as it often violates boundaries. Perhaps these are isolated voices, but they are not being properly addressed. Therefore, this is not an alternative, but a dead end. I personally, but also as a representative of the church, try to make it clear to the voters of this party that they are backing the wrong horse. This is not something that is sustainable, but something that sows discord and is not conducive to democracy as a whole.

At the AfD party conference, a board member called on members to leave the churches. Instead of calling for people to leave the churches, the self-appointed saviors of the Christian West would have done better to look at the Bible: "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my sisters and brothers, ye have done it unto me."

Hannelore Bartscherer (Chairwoman of the Catholic Committee of the City of Cologne): Before the upcoming state elections and, ultimately, before the federal elections this year, it is important to position ourselves for the society in which the rights of all people in this country are respected, the sexes are equal, and the weak and those in need of help are naturally protected, supported and assisted by us. Our neighbors are those who need help. This is our faith. We cannot close our eyes to what is there for everyone to see today. We can't later say we didn't know about anything. We stand together for the responsibility we have for a just city, for a just country and for a better world, wherever we are.
Rolf Domning (City Superindentendt Evangelical Church Association Cologne and Region): I think it's great that we as Christian churches have agreed on this motto and are sending out a clear signal. This strengthens us and each other. We now get a lot of hostility, but together we can bear it well.

The AfD is trying to push us into a certain corner. I think they should think about individual points of their party program – especially with regard to Islam. This does not correspond to my reality of life and the AfD will not come into the middle of society with it. Because the middle of society has encounter with Muslims and knows that they are people like you and me. Our society must hold together and it must remain colorful. This is my appeal.

Rebea Muller (Liberal Muslim Alliance): I would like to emphasize first of all that the half moon also has no hooks. I think that especially in Cologne, where we have a Council of Religions that has been working together successfully for many years, we have learned to get along with each other and to discuss things with respect. I believe in keeping this respect – even if we sometimes have very different opinions. I see this as more of a problem with the AfD. The fact that I am standing here, together with my Jewish friend, among others, shows very clearly that not only Muslims, but also Islam belongs in Cologne. Cologne will produce its own Islam, that of a liberal and cosmopolitan thinking.
Dr. Gesa Biffio (Chairwoman of the Jewish Liberal Community of Cologne): Of course, the Star of David has no hooks. Of course, we are extremely sensitized to the racist and anti-Semitic slogans of the AfD. I have just come from our service, which we celebrate on Saturdays, to say how proud and happy we are to be part of the diversity of this city and also of the Council of Religions.

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