In an article published by the BBC, an initiative undertaken by a supermarket located in Hamburg, Germany, was highlighted as an innovative action against xenophobia.
The Edeka Supermarket took away all foreign products from their shelves such as Spanish tomatoes and Greek cheeses replacing them by signs including the following messages:
“Our selection knows border today”
“This is how empty a shelf is without foreigners”
“This shelf is pretty boring without diversity”
Pictures of the empty shelves became viral worldwide a few weeks ahead of the recent federal elections in Germany held in September in which migration became an important issue within the political debate.
More than 1 million refugees have entered Germany since 2015, a social challenge that made German politicians raised integration and national identity as main topics of discussion. As highlighted in certain media, Chancellor Merkel’s “refugees welcome” policy in 2015 “has fueled the rise of extremist views that wants to close the country’s borders and curb the right to asylum”.
Germany, like many other countries in Europe, faces major global challenges including climate change, a demographic challenge and economic pressures from globalization and migration. It also faces specific defiance related to democracy: the rise of populism as exemplified by the rise of the AfD.
However, according the Migration Policy Index (MIPEX), which measures policies of countries to integrate migrants in Europe, Germany ranks among the top ten countries in Europe on integration policy. The index stated that “Germany’s integration policies have benefited its economy by contributing to rising employment rates and positive public attitudes towards immigrants”. In addition to this, the creation of a Federal Commissioner at the Chancellery to coordinate integration plans among ministries and federal states, has been highlighted as a good practice.
The Edeka Supermarket’s campaign promotes a Shared Societies perspective and was revealed at the right time, a few weeks ahead of the German election. It shows the imaginative way that the issues related to migration and refugees can be highlighted and shoppers provoked to stop and think.