Schwan accuses Stark-Watzinger of lacking knowledge of the Basic Law

Photo: Gesine Schwan (archive), via dts news agency

Berlin (dts) - The SPD politician Gesine Schwan accuses Research Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger (FDP) of a lack of knowledge of the Basic Law for her allegations against teachers in the wake of the pro-Palestinian protests at universities. “The minister's implicit accusation that the signatories of the open letter - which one must be able to criticize - do not stand on the basis of the Basic Law does not demonstrate knowledge of it,” said the long-time president of the Viadrina University in Frankfurt an der Oder and chairwoman of the Basic Law SPD Basic Values ​​Commission to the Tagesspiegel on Thursday (Friday edition).

The police had recently ended several protest actions at universities. Schwan now firmly warned against hastily suppressing the current protests with police operations. “In liberal democracies, universities are sensors of social ruptures and upcoming upheavals, especially in crises,” said Schwan. “The threat of the police as a general means of disciplining ‘right’ thinking is completely inappropriate and the tool of dictators, not democrats,” adds Schwan. Instead, politicians must face the discussions at universities and thus convincingly advocate for justice and non-violence.

However, Schwan also expressed clear expectations of students - and criticized the lecturers' writing. “The fact that students are ‘under no circumstances to be subjected to police violence’, as it is stated in the lecturer’s statement, is at least misleadingly worded, because students cannot simply be exempted from the state’s monopoly on the use of force when committing crimes,” she said. Of course, it is never permitted to threaten or use violence against other students.

The SPD's research policy spokesman, Oliver Kaczmarek, explained that he would have found it right if the Federal Minister of Education had taken the concrete initiative. In this way, both free discourse spaces at universities and clear sanctions for anti-Semitism and hostility to Israel could have been established, Kaczmarek told the “Tagesspiegel” on Thursday. “Instead, she has increased the irritation with her inconsequential criticism of university lecturers and states.” Anja Reinalter, research politician for the Green parliamentary group, explained: “It is becoming increasingly clear that the FDP does not have a ministry of culture in the states.”

After occupying a courtyard at the Free University of Berlin, professors and lecturers defended students' right to demonstrate - regardless of their demands. Stark-Watzinger then appeared “stunned” and questioned whether the teachers were still on the basis of the Basic Law.