Last week, a nightclub in the town of Bad Tölz in Bavaria, Germany, admitted that it was barring asylum seekers from entering.
The Local, an English-language German news outlet, reported on Wednesday that last week, club-goers noticed that bouncers at Brucklyn were turning away refugees. The move apparently prompted onlookers to call the bouncers "Nazi pigs," Brucklyn explained in a Facebook post. The club added that the decision was made to keep refugees out in order "to maintain well-being in the club." Yikes.
When refugees began to arrive in Bad Tölz early in 2015 the club had allowed them in just like any other customers, the post claims. But young male asylum seekers began harassing women in the establishment, following them to the toilets or calling them "whores“ and offering them money for sex, according to the Facebook post. The nightclub writes that it faces a dilemma. On the one hand it could ignore the problem and face losing more and more of its old clientèle, as women become more reluctant to drink there. The second alternative is "to only let a limited number of refugees into the club. That way the girls can feel more comfortable"— but on the other hand they are aware this leads to accusations of racism, they say.
So less of a ban, more of a quota.
Bavaria has been hit especially hard by the refugee crisis. According to the Guardian, roughly 170,000 refugees entered the region last month, and about 1,000 asylum seekers come through each day. But this is not the first time a German nightclub has seen allegations of racism.
Just a few months ago, Amadeus in the Bavarian city of Ingolstadt was criticized for doing the same. The club owner suggested refugees hand out instructional flyers to make sure they behave properly before being allowed back in. The club's owner told Deutsche Welle that refugees harass Amadeus' female patrons, try to steal coats and get free drinks. He said, bluntly, "The blacks have a problem with women and the Arabs have a problem with aggression."
Der Spiegel reported in 2013 that several lawsuits had been filed against clubs for racist door policies, and that one man systematically tested a number of clubs:
In Munich, one man from Burkina Faso is seeking to sue 10 nightclubs at once. Over two nights in April, the man went with friends from the Munich Foreigners' Advisory Council to 25 different nightclubs to test their door policies. Only five of the clubs granted access to the group members with dark skin, while the white-looking members were let in much more often.
Writing in CityLab last year, journalist Feargus O'Sullivan offered some analysis on the case:
My suspicion, however, is that the sort of racial profiling he experienced is probably pretty common in Germany, as it is across the continent. German minorities commonly report widespread discrimination, whether it's being summarily turned down for housing by landlords or exclusion and hair-raisingly racist comments by teachers in the education system. From my own experience, open racial prejudice is more tolerated in the country than it is in (hardly racism-free) Britain, an impression backed up by a Council of Europe report released this winter that criticized Germany for not doing enough about racism, both in terms of laws and their enforcement.
Comments posted to The Local's Facebook page suggest that the issue is, to say the least, fraught.
Danielle Wiener-Bronner is a news reporter.