Berlin tourism ad axed over controversial face mask photo

Berlin’s tourism authority has retracted an advert showing an elderly lady giving the middle finger to those who refuse to wear masks in public.

The German capital has decided to drop the controversial image which appeared on posters for the ‘Berlin against Corona’ campaign. Branded with the slogan “We follow the corona rules” the punkish pensioner appeared alongside the words: “Raising an accusatory finger for all those without masks”.

Visit Berlin, the city’s tourism board, said it had tried a diverse range of approaches eventually settling upon bold typeface posters, which it produced in English, Turkish and Arabic for the multinational city.

For their French neighbours the city printed the cheeky motto “Liberté, égalité, charité? Keep it to yourself”.

However, it was the pensioner that rubbed people the wrong way. The poster became the target of an editorial in local newspaper Der Tagesspiegel and Berlin senate member and Free Democratic Party politician, Marcel Luthe lodged a complaint with police – saying the poster was fostering hatred.

Old school: The controversial advert is deemed inappropriate for coronavirus-era Berlin.Source:Supplied

“We wanted to give attention to this problem. For this reason we have chosen this provocative motif,” said Visit Berlin’s Christian Tänzler, in a statement to the BBC.

Visit Berlin later acknowledged the problems, writing a statement to their campaign website saying the poster was removed from the city on October 13.

“The controversial image appeared in print adverts for five daily newspapers. This photo of the old lady will now no longer be used.”

In an opinion piece for Der Tagesspiegel, editor in chief Lorenz Mardoldt, said the advert was in its own way “classic Berlin”, but said it “failed to capture the complexity of corona-era politics”.

In essence, the punk rock spirit of Berlin is the latest casualty of the pandemic in Germany.

At the beginning of the month, Berlin police cleared out one of the last squats in Friedrichshain, East Berlin.

Liberte, egalite, charite? Multilingual Berlin adverts. Picture: SuppliedSource:Supplied

A total of 1500 squatters were cleared out of the graffiti covered building in central Berlin. The squat for the “anarchist-queer-feminist” community since the 1990s was one of the last remaining symbols of the city’s ‘alternative’ culture. A legal representatives for the squatters complained to local media, saying: “It goes against human rights to throw people out on to the street in the middle of a pandemic, when they cannot pay their rents.”

However, police began enforcing the eviction of Liebig 34 in the increasingly gentrified inner city neighbourhood on October 7.

This article originally appeared on the NZ Herald and was reproduced with permission

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