For some years now, the police and the judiciary have been increasingly taking action against criminal members of German-Arab extended families. This is usually referred to as clan crime. The term is clearly defined by the Federal Criminal Police Office, but it remains controversial in the political arena because it could possibly stigmatise members of the extended families who are not guilty of any crime.
Representatives of well-known Berlin clans are now fighting back, and there is talk of a counter-public. On several occasions, the authorities’ actions have been compared to the Holocaust and the genocide of the Jews. And the men from Berlin’s best-known extended family have made use of right-wing conspiracy theories.
It all started on Instagram on Wednesday. There, a member of the Remmo clan posted: “Those who persecute us today are the descendants who persecuted and destroyed our Jewish fellow citizens back then.
In another text, he showed a photo of the Auschwitz death camp and compared the treatment of criminal clansmen to the beginnings of Nazism: “It didn’t start with gas chambers. It started with a policy that spoke of “us” against “them”,” wrote the man of the Neukölln extended family, who had been known to the police for years.The reason for this was a report in the newspaper “Berliner Morgenpost” about a villa of the family in the south of the district of Neukölln, which has been confiscated by the judiciary. The Court of Appeal confirmed this in September: according to the report, the property was apparently acquired in 2012 with loot money from an almost penniless son of clan leader Issa.The Shoa was also trivialised elsewhere, this time in front of a larger audience.
The Shoa was also trivialised elsewhere, this time in front of a larger audience. Arafat Abou-Chaker, one of the best-known underworld bigwigs, invited people to a virtual conversation on the audio app Clubhouse on Thursday night, which had up to 5,000 listeners. The audience included rapper Fler, cabaret artist Idil Baydar, a lawyer and many journalists.
Abou-Chaker complained about the clan coverage. One user literally said: “This reminds me very much of, what’s it called, World War II history, here, where they came after the Jews.Cabaret artist Baydar reacted and said: “It’s the same thing”. And Abou-Chaker agreed: “The same thing, wallah.” Another said, “In a modern and legal way.” There was also talk of alleged “collective punishment”.Later, Baydar, who was born in Celle, discovered critical comments on the short message service Twitter. There she was accused of comparing the handling of clan crime with the Holocaust. She had not said anything like that, i.e. the Holocaust comparison. That was a “decontextualised distortion”. And Abou-Chaker explained afterwards: “No one wants to compare themselves to Jews, that’s not the point”.
On Twitter, Baydar later even threatened to sue for injunctive relief, writing of “character assassination”. Then, on Thursday morning, she came to her senses. “In the heated debate, I said things that should not be allowed to stand. Of course, reporting on ‘clans’ is not comparable to the anti-Semitism of the Nazi era. I am very sorry if it sounded that way in the heat of the moment.”
Baydar also seems to have a special view on dealing with clan criminals in other ways: The police fill “clan computer files” with “all names that somehow sound Arabic”, even if “you stole a Snickers pack”.Baydar also agreed with underworld bigwig Abou-Chaker’s notions on “freedom of the press”.
He and three of his brothers have been on trial at the Berlin Regional Court for months. They have to answer for attempted serious blackmail, dangerous bodily harm, coercion, insult and embezzlement. Their victim is said to have been the rapper Bushido.
In June, Arafat Abou-Chaker was sentenced to a fine of 14,850 euros at the regional court for assault and threatening behaviour. In a commercial building in March 2018, he had pressed two fingers into the eyes of a caretaker and headbutted him.This previous conviction is recorded in the Federal Central Register. His brothers are on record for various charges such as racketeering, robbery, money laundering, drug and arms trafficking.