Modern Germany is a byword for racial tolerance, yet one architecture firm’s blunt response to an Egyptian job applicant has ignited a storm of controversy on social media.
Egyptian-born architect Yassen Gabr recently applied for a vacancy at GKK+ Architekten, a prestigious Berlin-based firm whose website boasts of its ethnically diverse workforce. He posted a screenshot of the rejection letter he received on Wednesday, which simply read “no Arabs please.”
Gabr’s post quickly gained traction on social media. “He should sue them,” one commenter wrote. “And, why not publish the name of the office so that we can all see who this racist is?”
A young man applies to an architecture firm in #Berlin
The head of the office comments on the application as:
“Please no Arabs”
— Ravi Kant – रवि कांत (@LegalKant) January 15, 2020
Worst rejection letter: ‘no Arabs please’. Just so sad what’s happening in Germany. “Germany’s levels of racist discrimination in the workplace are well above EU averages.“ https://t.co/bH1hqeDs5h
— Hilke Schellmann (@HilkeSchellmann) January 16, 2020
The firm told DW that the incident was a “misunderstanding,” and that the message was “cut short” and “taken out of context.” The letter was apparently an internal communication sent to Gabr by mistake, and the company apologized in a subsequent email.
According to a study by the German Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency, workers with “foreign sounding names” were 24 percent less likely to be called by employers for an interview. Foreign-born residents in Germany are also twice as likely to be unemployed as ethnic Germans.
A significant number of these non-nationals are of Arabic descent, as over a million Middle Eastern and North African have come to Germany since the migrant crisis of 2015. Chancellor Angela Merkel has since been criticized for her “open door” immigration policies.
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