Berlin Michelin-Star Restaurant’s AfD Sign Splits Online CriticsBy
Sticker suggests Alternative for Germany backers not welcome
Restaurant’s one-star ratings now challenge five-star ratings
A Michelin-starred restaurant in Berlin is coming under fire on social networks for suggesting that supporters of the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany party are not welcome.
Nobelhart & Schmutzig, which is celebrated for its single 10-course menu of locally sourced produce, has stickers on its door barring the use of cameras, mobile phones and knives. It recently added a further sticker featuring the logo of the AfD, as the party is known in German, with a red strike through it. The Tagesspiegel newspaper first reported on the AfD sticker on Nov. 24.
The restaurant’s Facebook page has since become a forum for debating the establishment’s political as much as its culinary impact, with some users posting messages saying the sticker is “intolerant” and “shameful,” and that it reminds them of anti-Semitic posters of the Nazi era. Others defended the restaurant, saying that it was taking a “courageous” stand against a right-wing group. The AfD didn’t respond to a call and e-mail seeking comment.
The incident hints at the level of online support for the AfD ahead of one of the most open elections in years in Germany next year. The AfD narrowly missed out on winning Bundestag seats at the last federal election in 2013, but has since taken seats in 10 of Germany’s 16 state parliaments by opposing Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-door refugee policy and warning of an “Islamization” of Germany. Its proficiency in using social media may prove key to translating online backing into electorate support in the 2017 elections.
Nobelhart & Schmutzig’s owner, Billy Wagner, decided to put the sign up because he was concerned by the show of support for the AfD in September’s elections to Berlin’s regional government, he said Tuesday. He said he will weather the storm and doesn’t plan to remove the sticker.
“I’m in favor of a discourse with political opponents in a democracy, but I don’t want to have that discussion at the kitchen table of my restaurant,” Wagner said by phone. “We’re happy about everyone who wants to visit us no matter their sexual orientation, religion or origin, but the AfD is the opposite of everything I stand for.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, the ratings for Nobelhart & Schmutzig were almost evenly split between the top, five stars and the lowest, one-star award. What’s more, many of the recent ratings, both five-star and one-star, are linked to the anti-AfD sticker and the restaurant’s political stance rather than its food.