Former German Green party leader Cem Özdemir delivered a hard-hititting speech at Germany's Bundestag on 22 February comparing the country's far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) to the Nazis. He accused the AfD of seeking to impose Nazi-style press censorship and “despising everything modern Germany stands for”.
The speech reads as follows:
"Madam President! Dear colleagues!
Take a moment to carefully consider what we are talking about today. We are talking about a German journalist and the articles he has written. It is reminiscent of what we have come to expect from authoritarian countries. It is in no way, however, the duty of the German Bundestag to cast judgement on the work of journalists as if at school. The parliament is not the highest censoring body for us, the citizens of the Federal Republic of Germany. Things like this exist in the countries you admire. Germany is not one of them.
In our country, the Federal Republic of Germany, there is no such thing as an enforced political conformity that you dream about at night. We have freedom of the press, a concept that obviously doesn’t exist in your worldview.
🔥🔥"There are MPs in this House that I can’t describe as anything but racists!" Former Green Party leader @cem_oezdemir lays into far-right AfD party after they initiate #Bundestag debate on #DenisYücel's satirical work. The journalist was released from jail in #Turkey last week pic.twitter.com/Kcqq1Qnvze— DW | Politics (@dw_politics) February 23, 2018
We will not let you jeopardize our freedom of the press, unlike your comrades in Turkey who stole one year from Deniz Yücel's life.
We are glad that Deniz Yücel is free. To avoid any misunderstanding: We would be just as glad if he was called Gustav Müller (a typical 'German' name); for every citizen of this country deserves to know that it will stand up for him; this is a given. Everyone knows it except you.
All of us, the democratic part of this house, are working to ensure that the other journalists who are also imprisoned but do not have a German passport, are released - they deserve it as well; because journalism is not a crime.
Unfortunately, the truth is that our country has dramatically changed in the one year since Deniz Yücel was imprisoned, and this debate bears witness to that. In the meantime, members of parliament have taken up seats in this house whom I can only refer to as racists. Anyone behaving like this is a racist.
And I mean these ladies and gentlemen on the far right. I'm at the microphone and thank God you can’t turn it off. I know that in the regime you are dreaming of, you could turn off that microphone; but, thank God, you can’t. You won’t be able to change that. Mark my words!
You want to determine who is German and who isn’t. But how can someone who despises Germany as you do, decide who is German and who is not? All of you from the AfD, as you are sitting there, you would, if you were honest, admit that you despise this country. You despise everything for which this country is respected throughout the world. It includes our culture of remembrance, of which I am proud as a citizen of this country. It includes the diversity in this country, which I am just as proud of. It includes Bavarians, Swabians, but it also includes people whose ancestors come from Russia, and it includes people whose ancestors come from Anatolia and are now just as proud to be citizens of this country.
It includes - I have to state that here, feeling personally affected as a football fan - our great national football team. If you are honest, you are keeping your fingers crossed for the Russians to win and not for our German national team. Admit it!
You despise this House as much as you despise the values of the Enlightenment. You are carved from the same rotten wood as those that arrested Deniz Yücel. You are carved from the same rotten wood as Erdogan who had Deniz Yücel arrested for one year of his life. I say it once in just one sentence: The AKP has a branch in Germany, its name is AfD and it is sitting here.
Let me conclude by saying: you recently had your political Ash Wednesday (traditionally a time of political party gatherings). It reminded me more of a speech in the sports palace (a reference to the Sportspalast speech of 1943 in which Goebbels asked a frenzied Berlin crowd: “Do you want total war?). I want to call out to you: our Germany, this Germany, is stronger than your hatred will ever be.
Your raging mob wanted me to be deported on Ash Wednesday. That’s easier than you’d imagine. I will be back in my homeland this coming Saturday. I’ll fly to Stuttgart. I'll take the S-Bahn and I get off at the terminus, Bad Urach. That’s where my Swabian home is, and I won’t let you ruin it."
You can also view the video in its original German form