The Goethe-Institut recently uninvited award-winning Palestinian poet, writer and human rights activist Mohammad El-Kurd from a roundtable titled “Selling Fascism? Remembering the Unsold”.
The roundtable was a part of a three-day conference “Beyond the Lone Offender – Dynamics of the Global Right” to be held in Hamburg, Germany, from June 23 to 26.
In retaliation, independent researcher and essayist Sinthujan Varatharajah and visual artist, research and curator Moshtari Hilal decided to call off their curatorial contribution to the conference.
Varatharajah took to Twitter to register his and Moshtari’s protest.
“Our cancellation is in response to Goethe-Institut’s attempts to intervene in our curatorial decisions and by way of it, enforce a climate of anti-Palestinian censorship,” the Twitter thread said.
El-Kurd had already confirmed his participation when a notification from Goethe-Institut’s head office explicitly refused the Palestinian writer’s participation in the programme.
“Goethe-Institut’s veto against El-Kurd calls into question the very purpose of this conference.”
The institute justified its decision using the term “collective responsibility”, which according to Varatharajah’s statement “apparently requires the structural silencing of Palestinian intellectuals such as El-Kurd”.
“What are the benefits of a conference on right-wing violence when the principal organiser, a state agency primarily financed by the German Foreign Office, enforces preemptive censorship out of fear to receive racist and reactionary backlash.”
The decision was also said to add to “a climate of anti-Palestinian racism”. El-Kurd’s attempts to get his visa processed were also ignored by the German Consulate.
“We want to reiterate that Goethe-Institut is directly financed by the German Foreign Office. It is the German state’s cultural embassy,” the tweet said.
The statement was shared on Twitter “to achieve transparency over the state of political affairs in Germany” and the apparent racism against Palestinians.
“We stand in solidarity with Mohammed El-Kurd and the Palestinian people.”