Fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld of Chanel evoked the Holocaust this week in criticizing Germany’s open borders policy toward Muslim refugees, saying Berlin was taking in Jews’ “worst enemies.”
The Hamburg-born Lagerfeld sparked controversy when he lashed out at German Chancellor Angela Merkel, saying, “You cannot kill millions of Jews and then take in millions of their worst enemies afterwards, even if there are decades [between the events],” according to a translation by the The Times.
Lagerfeld, 84, made the comments during an appearance on a French talk show on Canal 8.
“I know someone in Germany who took in a young Syrian who spoke a little English,” he said. “After four days, do you know what he said to the [German] lady? ‘Germany’s best invention is the Holocaust.’”
Merkel, Lagerfeld said, “already had millions [of immigrants] who are integrated, who work, which is very good because the demography is a little bit in decline there.
“But she didn’t need to take in another million to give her a charming image.” He further claimed Merkel was attempting to rebuild her image “after the wicked step-mother image she gave herself in the Greek crisis.”
Lagerfeld’s comments led to hundreds of complaints being lodged with France’s television regulator, with viewers denouncing the comments as Islamophobic and racist.
France’s Higher Audiovisual Council said it was investigating the complaints.
Around one million migrants from Syria and other Middle Eastern and North African nations have arrived in Germany since 2015 as part of the ongoing migrant crisis experiences in Europe. The influx of asylum seekers, mostly from Muslim countries, has deeply divided Germany.
It is also believed to have led to the growth of the Alternative for Germany party, or AfD, which has capitalized on anger and transformed itself from an anti-euro upstart into an anti-Islam, anti-immigration party.
AFP contributed to this report.