If Annette Widmann-Mauz to call their official title in introductory rounds, you can see the CDU politician briefly take a breath. She knows: Minister of State for Migration, Refugees and Integration – for some, these are almost toxic terms that can generate hundreds of hate-mails within minutes. For others, the news that a Swabian health politician in place of the Turkish-born SPD politician Aydan Özoğuz would move to the post in the Chancellery, sparked skeptical comments: What has this to do with the topic?
On top of that, the CDU integration policy is under increased scrutiny, not only from the outside, such as through the AFD, After Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer followed Merkel as party leader, there is always a question floating over the topic: Was the inclusion of 2015 a mistake? What will become of Merkel's "friendly face"? In workshop talks, the party now wants to clarify these hot questions on the weekend. Widmann-Mauz will also be sitting on the stage.
During a visit to a community school in Berlin-Friedenau last summer, one could watch the Minister of State juggle all this. The school had made headlines nationwide in 2017 because a 14-year-old Jewish boy had been mobbed and threatened there for months by Arab and Turkish classmates until he left school. Widmann-Mauz sits in a circle with students, most of them with a migration background, some consultants and the director. He proudly tells us what the school has done in terms of racism and anti-discrimination in recent times, the many workshops, coaching sessions, blackboards and role-playing games. The word "anti-Semitism" surprisingly does not happen anymore. Instead, students report on their own experiences of racism ("I am always asked why my palms are white"). Somehow, over the Jewish student, the water has smoothed, he is no longer talk.
"How is that with you?"
Widmann-Mauz could now do what her predecessor used to do on such occasions: the ranks close against the xenophobia out in the country, stating how far the path still to be covered by German society is to praise the efforts. She preferred to ignore conflicts within the migrant community.
But Widmann-Mauz asks the question Aydan Özoğuz probably never asked: "How is it with you? Have you ever discriminated against someone?" This breaks the ice, but not in a good way. When they are addressed directly to the Jewish classmate who is now no longer sitting here, a boy says what many apparently think in the round, because they nod in agreement: "He has grossly exaggerated.He has damaged the reputation of this school." A girl adds, "I just told him that I do not like Israel, but I did not mean it personally!"
Widmann-Mauz shakes his head in disbelief. All the workshops, AGs, school against racism, coaching – and then it sounds like that? She is determined not to let that alone.
Sneakers in the backpack
Everything about Widmann-Mauz says practically. The haircut, the blouses, the bag, everything is designed so that their owner can tackle and move on quickly to the next project. Where she goes in pumps, sneakers are in the backpack in case a ball has to be kicked. But meanwhile her Berlin party friends, especially the integration skeptical domestic politicians have learned not to confuse everything with harmlessness. Widmann-Mauz played a key role in organizing Women's Union voices for Kramp-Karrenbauer, without whom she would never have won. And because women's and migration policy since the era Süßmuth in the CDU Strangely enough, the interior politicians, led by Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, in their quarrel with Widmann-Mauz, always quickly feel the clout of their troops: do not touch my women's union!
The fact that she does not have a migration background of her own could benefit her in the current climate: the commissioner is not just the ombudswoman of a minority. It also represents the interests of the majority society when immigrants lack the willingness to accept certain rules. For example, Widmann-Mauz demands that Muslim representatives of the Union appear with a woman at appointments with her. Otherwise the conversation will not take place.