BERLIN – Thousands of people in Germany have been sharing stories of everyday discrimination under the hashtag #MeTwo, following Muslim football star Mesut Özil’s resignation from the country’s national team.
“When I’m the only-nonwhite person in a crowded train and the police get in, I’m the only one who is asked to show ID,” tweeted Der Spiegel reporter Hasnain Kazim, as the discussion trended on German Twitter, The Local reported.
#MeToo movement started months ago to highlight women’s experiences of sexual harassment.
After Özil’s resignation from team Germany, Turkish-origin author, and rights activist Ali Can used the hashtag to launch a new campaign to highlight racism most refugees face in their new home.
“We need a #MeToo debate for people with a migrant background,” Can, who has lived in Germany since he was a toddler, said in a video posted online on Tuesday.
“I am more than just one identity. I feel at home in Germany… at the same, I can feel connected to another country,” he said. “The two sides blend together, one doesn’t exclude the other.”
Özil dropped a bombshell on Sunday when he announced in a stinging letter that he would no longer play for Germany after he faced racist abuse for posing for a picture alongside Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
“I have two hearts, one German and one Turkish,” wrote Özil, who accused the German Football Federation (DFB) of failing to stand up for him after critics questioned his patriotism and singled him out for blame after Germany’s World Cup flop.
Thousands of people reacted to the hashtag, sharing their stories of facing prejudice and racism in Germany.
“You’re well integrated for a Turk” and “Don’t you wear a headscarf?” were cited as “classic examples” of remarks endured by Twitter user Hatdische Indsche.
Many also complained about discrimination from landlords in the search for a flat or house, because of their skin color or foreign-sounding names.
“When you can’t get an answer, but your German girlfriend gets instant replies to the same offer. After we got married and she changed her name, she stopped getting answers too,” wrote Twitter user Oguz Yilmaz.
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas praised the campaign, saying it was “impressive and painful” to see how many stories were flooding in.
“If you think racism in Germany is no longer a problem, I recommend reading through all the #MeTwo tweets,” he tweeted.
“Let us raise our voice with them: against racism, anytime, anywhere.”