German city enlists rapper who joked about Holocaust for social distancing PSA
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German city enlists rapper who joked about Holocaust for social distancing PSA

Düsseldorf municipality recruits Farid Bang, who in a 2018 song referred to ‘bodies more sculpted than Auschwitz inmates,’ for coronavirus awareness campaign

Rappers Farid Bang, left, and Kollegah, right, speak on stage during the Echo Award show at Messe Berlin on April 12, 2018 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)
Rappers Farid Bang, left, and Kollegah, right, speak on stage during the Echo Award show at Messe Berlin on April 12, 2018 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)

JTA — The city government of the Germany city of Düsseldorf is facing criticism for enlisting a Muslim rapper, whose lyrics mocked Holocaust victims, to promote social distancing.

The Düsseldorf municipality posted a public service announcement featuring Farid Bang on its Facebook page Wednesday. In 2018, Bang and a collaborator released a song in which they rapped about having “bodies more sculpted than Auschwitz inmates,” and included the lyrics “another Holocaust; let’s grab the Molotov” cocktails.

When the two artists won a top music award that year, several other winners returned their awards in protest. German prosecutors investigated the artists but decided the song was merely tasteless, not a violation of laws prohibiting Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism.

The commissioner for the fight against anti-Semitism in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia criticized the decision to involve Farid Bang in the social distancing promo.

“The choice of rapper, Farid Bang, for a public project, which is supposed to shed light on the topic of the coronavirus, is hard to bear,” the commissioner, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, told the Rheinische Post newspaper.

Düsseldorf Mayor Thomas Geisel defended the decision to hire Bang as intended to reach a young target audience that has displayed indifference to social distancing rules, Deutsche Welle reported Wednesday.

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