Despite criticism from local government officials, migrant aid groups and Chancellor Angela Merkel herself, a German food bank refused service to non-German citizens on Wednesday.
The Associated Press reports that a food bank in Essen, Germany handed out new access cards to everyone but recent migrants. These cards are parceled out every Wednesday and allow access to the bank for one year. According to AP, the food bank began excluding non-citizens six weeks ago. Retaliation from the public has included spray painting the word “Nazis” on food bank trucks.
Merkel said organizations shouldn’t be run on such exclusionary actions. Her spokesperson tells AP that she is in discussion with Essen’s mayor about whether governmental actions will be necessary.
Joerg Sartor, who runs the food bank in Essen, argues that the people who were refused access cards likely didn’t need help from the food banks.
“Most of the foreigners who came here were Syrian men who have already received asylum status and who were collecting the food donations on top of the regular welfare they’re receiving from the authorities,” Sartor tells AP. “They are not the ones who need it.”
Germany’s anti-discrimination law doesn’t protect non-citizens from being excluded service by civil society groups and companies.
General xenophobia has found its way into European government. In 2016, Verona, Italy enforced a ban on “ethnic” foods like kebabs and gyros. Other Italian cities have put similar bans in place as early as 2009. Also in 2016, English voters elected to part from the EU, which has resulted in blows to the restaurant and hospitality industries and chicken tikka masala shortages. It’s ironic that laws like these can also find a home in a town called Essen, which is German for “eat.”