Germany’s first MP born in Africa steps down amid racist harassment

Karamba Diaby (Getty)
Karamba Diaby (Getty)

The first African-born member of parliament in Germany has announced that he will not stand in the next federal election in 2025, just weeks after receiving a death threat.

Karamba Diaby, 62, said such racist threats were “not the main reason” for his decision. He simply wanted to spend more time with his family and make room for younger politicians.

“After months of consideration and weighing, I, in consultation with my family, have come to the decision not to run for the Bundestag again,” he wrote in a letter to his party colleagues, the German Press Agency reported.

“I look back on 11 enriching and successful years in federal politics. After three legislative periods, it’s time to make way for the next political generation and explore new paths.”

Mr Diaby, a member of the centre-left Social Democrats representing Halle since 2013, has endured many racist attacks and threats over the years, including several on his office.

“Of course, I will remain active and engaged in the SPD. We face big challenges and hard work,” he said.

“At the same time, I’m looking forward to having more time for my family and friends and our allotment.”

Mr Diaby was born in Senegal and is the only member of the German parliament with African heritage.

He was seven when he lost both his parents and was brought up by his older sister and her husband. He moved to Germany on a study grant in 1985.

In spite of the attacks and insults he has faced in Halle over the years, Mr Diaby told Der Spiegel last year: “I feel very comfortable in Halle.”

But the “unpleasant incidents”, he said, made him “sad and worried”.

Karamba Diaby speaks in the Bundestag on 28 May 2020 (Getty)
Karamba Diaby speaks in the Bundestag on 28 May 2020 (Getty)

In several interviews, Mr Diaby has noted the increasingly hostile atmosphere he has had to contend with in the parliament and society, attributing it to the 2017 entry of the populist AfD party into the Bundestag.

“Since 2017, the tone in the German parliament has become harsher,” he told the Berlin Playbook podcast of Politico’. “We hear aggressive speeches from colleagues of the AfD. We hear derogatory and hurtful content in these contributions. That is truly a totally new situation compared to the period between 2013 and 2017. This aggressive style of talking is fertile breeding ground for the violence and aggression on the streets.”

More recently, after receiving a death threat, the MP wrote on Instagram: “For me the level of hatred and agitation has reached a new level. I now encounter it every day in the news and commentaries, but also in the German Bundestag.”

Bullet holes in the window of Karamba Diaby’s constituency office in Halle (Getty)
Bullet holes in the window of Karamba Diaby’s constituency office in Halle (Getty)

“I won’t let myself be intimidated. I am fighting back. The hatred that the AfD sows every day with its misanthropic narratives is reflected in concrete psychological and physical violence! This jeopardises cohesion in our society.”

He said this latest threat against him “crossed a new red line”.

“My coworkers are also threatened and blackmailed,” he said.

Mr Diaby’s absence from the 2025 Bundestag election will leave a void as the parliamentarian has been an outspoken advocate for social justice and a key figure in combating racism within German politics, German newspaper Aussiedlerbote noted.