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Saxony politician chides racist comments from German businessman

A minister in the eastern German state of Saxony, Eva-Maria Stange, has attacked racist comments supportive of Donald Trump made by a German businessman. Hans Naumann is also under fire from Chemnitz university students.

Unternehmer Hans J. Naumann (picture-alliance/dpa/W. Thieme)

Hans J. Naumann (pictured above, second from the right) favorably described US President Donald Trump as a politician who "recognized that the white population needs to stand together" in an interview with local German newspaper "Freie Presse" on April 15.

State Science Minister Eva-Maria Stange, a Social Democrat, criticized his comments as having a "clear racist tone."

The 81-year-old US-German citizen is an external member of the Chemnitz Technical University board, and the students' union is calling for his removal in light of the comments.

Stange agreed that his words "go against the international character and the principles of tolerance and cosmopolitanism present in Saxony's higher education system." She pointed to the roughly 20 percent of students in Chemnitz of Asian background as "a sign of our internationalism." 

"The comments are not subject to interpretation, they have a clearly racist tenor," Stange said on Thursday, albeit adding that mechanical engineering mogul Naumann had been speaking in his capacity as a "private person," not in connection with Chemnitz's Technical University. 

Similarly, the university had earlier issued a statement saying that "as a matter of principle" it did not comment "on private expressions of opinion." 

Saxony's science minister Eva-Maria Stange (SPD).

Saxony's science minister Eva-Maria Stange (SPD).

Conscription for US African-Americans? 

The 81-year-old US citizen had said in the April 15 interview that he had voted for Trump in the presidential elections in November 2016 and that he was very satisfied with him so far.

"I think that Trump - unlike many European politicians - has recognized that the white population must stand together. Americans, Europeans, Australians - they're roughly 1.5 billion people, but Asians come to 6 billion. In my opinion, the world's demographics compel the two nuclear powers, America and Russia, to stand together. That is why Trump says that the Americans and Russians must stand together to maintain peace in the world. To that end, of course, you can't keep rubbing Putin's nose in the dirt.

Naumann was then asked about the African-American population, which he called a "difficult question."

"The African-American youth has very much deserted its responsibilities; they leave school early, they don't even finish elementary school," he said. "I am afraid the next generation of black youth will again be a social group that lives just as poorly as its parents and grandparents did. There has been no breakthrough - unfortunately. This is needed, but I believe that it can only be achieved by bringing young African-Americans into the military, teaching them discipline and enabling them to learn a trade."

Naumann is CEO of the international machine tool maker Niles-Simmons-Hegenscheidt (NSH) Group, a 360-million-euro turnover firm with subsidiaries around the world, including Sterling Heights, Michigan.

Naumann said NSH, one of the largest industrial companies in Saxony, would shift some of its production to the US and some to a new plant in Russia.

Black supporters of President Donald Trump hold signs in Times Square, Manhattan, New York, US November 8, 2016.

Black supporters of President Donald Trump hold signs in Times Square, Manhattan, New York, US November 8, 2016.

Students angered

Chemnitz's student council is lobbying for consequences. Their anti-discrimination officer, Ines Köpfel, told local broadcaster MDR that "discrimination against non-white people, assigning them negative characteristics such as laziness or ill-discipline, shows a racist mindset and totally neglects to take into account economic and social disadvantages and discrimination."

In a statement, the student council said that the "boundary of what's tolerable" had been "massively overstepped."

Naumann is a holder of Germany's Federal Order of Merit (one of the country's highest civic accolades) since 2001, and a similar civic honor from the eastern state of Saxony since 2004. The student council also called for both of these to be revoked. 

Saxony-Anhalt is a state where the euroskeptic right-wing party Alternative for Germany (AfD) is expected to fare well in September's federal elections. In 2016, the AfD won a 24.3 percent of the vote in state elections - their best result to date in any German ballot.

Watch video 07:04

Racism from the right in the US

 

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