Germany abolishes its main music awards after an anti-Semitic rap scandal

German rappers Kollegah and Farid Bang on stage.
German rappers Kollegah and Farid Bang on stage.
Image: Axel Schmidt/Pool via Reuters
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Germany’s Echo music awards—the equivalent to the Grammys in the US or the Brit Awards in the UK—were scrapped by the Federal Association of the Music Industry on Wednesday, in the wake of national outrage over its award for best hip-hop album on Apr. 12.

Popular rappers Kollegah and Farid Bang, both Muslim, took the prize for their album “Jung, Brutal, Gutaussehend” (young, brutal, handsome), which contains a track with the lyrics: “My body is more defined than Auschwitz inmates.”

The duo was allowed to perform the track at the awards ceremony, the date of which coincided with Holocaust Remembrance Day. In another album track, they rap that they’re going to “make another Holocaust, show up with a Molotov.”

A number of artists returned their own Echo awards in protest (paywall) at the rap prize, as criticism rained in from the press, politicians, and business leaders. Foreign Minister Heiko Mass tweeted that: “Anti-Semitic provocations do not deserve awards, they are simply disgusting.” Airbus CEO Tom Enders said the award damaged Germany’s international reputation, asking: “Is anti-Semitism becoming acceptable in Germany?”

The music association said that the Echo brand was irreparably damaged, and that they don’t want the music prize to be seen as a platform for anti-Semitism.

Kippah rallies

As in many European countries, there are concerns that anti-Semitism is growing in Germany too—the government recently appointed an anti-Semitism minister. Last year, Germany experienced an average of four anti-Semitic crimes a day, and recently there have been reports of Jewish children being bullied in schools. Last week, two men wearing kippahs—traditional Jewish skullcaps—were attacked by a Syrian Palestinian in Berlin, one was beaten with a belt.

On Tuesday, the head of the Central Council of Jews told Radio Eins (link in German) that Jews should “wear a baseball cap or something else” as a head covering rather than go out wearing their kippahs in big cities like Munich and Berlin.

Nationwide rallies are taking place this evening in Germany in solidarity with the Jewish community, and thousands are expected to turn up wearing kippahs.