German writers read all the racist emails in their inbox on stage.
Image via the Hate Poetry Facebook page.
Your haters are only as powerful as the amount of space they occupy in your email inbox. That’s why a group of writers in Germany, all of them Muslim or with Islamic-sounding names, decided to read their hate mail out loud in Berlin bars, in a series of events they call the Hate Poetry Night. On these cathartic nights, German journalists take the take the stage to air out the poisonous contents of their inboxes, from their angriest, most racist readers.
“I have nothing against Muslims as long as the only place they are staying is at the local cemetery,” reads one, according to the Guardian. “Sod off you tosser. I piss on your Muslim flag. People are losing their heads, and you worry about whether your child-fucking prophet can be banned?”reads another.
Like any respectable poetry slam, the Hate Poetry Night also issues prizes—according to the Guardian, performers can win yellow vests inscribed with the words “Sharia Police” and a mosque-shaped alarm clock for their performances.
Germany, a country long-regarded as a paragon of religious and ethnic tolerance, is not really a great place for Muslims right now. The Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West (PEGIDA), a German right-wing group, has been drawing crowds numbering in the thousands for anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant rallies in the past few months. Multiple mosques around the country have been subject to arson attacks and defacement. The Hate Poetry Night is not just a manifestation of this vitriolic Islamophobia, it’s also a response to it: a primal scream against the purveyors of malice. They even recently performed in Dresden, where Pegida’s homebase is located. These events allow victims of anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant chauvinism to gather, commiserate, and ridicule their tormenters. Turning the hate mail into a joke dispels their power.
“We know they are terrible, but we don’t want to feel like victims or waste an evening crying over them,” said Yassin Musharbash, a journalist with German newspaper Die Zeit, to the Guardian. “It’s easy to laugh at an obvious idiot... but it’s not so easy when you start to realise some of these people spend a lot of time coming up with these arguments.”