Al confine tra Baviera e Turingia, Coburgo è il nuovo scenario del dibattito su società contemporanea, identità e approccio al razzismo.
Saint Maurice, also known as the “Coburg Moor,” is a Black man with attributes clearly viewed by the creator as stereotypical for the people of Black Africa: thick lips, a slight underbite, and frizzy hair, as well as a large creole earring. The image can be seen throughout the town, featured on facades, signs and — every couple of meters — on the top of manhole covers.
It is a discriminatory illustration and a throwback to the colonial era, say Juliane Reuther and Alisha Archie. Both live in Berlin but are originally from the Upper Franconia region of Bavaria where Coburg is located. The two women started an online petition calling for the coat of arms to be redesigned. The image obscures the fact that all Black people are different and instead implies “something exotic, some sort of wildness,” says Alisha Archie. “It’s a racist image and it has no place in today’s world.”
Sulla questione intervengono con punti di vista diversi alcuni studiosi universitari: se da un lato viene difeso lo stemma come espressione cittadina di “stima e alto riguardo per il santo”, dall’altro si ribatte che non si può parlare di stima “quando si usa un’immagine razzista”, perché forse San Maurizio non era neanche nero in quanto proveniente dall’Egitto.
E mentre una donna intervistata si chiede se le promotrici dell’appello non abbiano magari troppo tempo libero, un contro-appello per preservare lo stemma attuale pare avere più sostenitori di quello che ne invoca la rimozione.
Back at Coburg town hall, there is indeed very little appetite for a challenging discussion. Requests for interviews on the troubled topic of the “Moor” are politely turned down. The feeling is that what there is to say has been said; DW’s interview was also rebuffed. Residents of the town have in the meantime started a second Internet petition with the title: “Coburg’s Moor is here to stay. Save the patron saint in our coat of arms.” And the appeal already has more supporters than the earlier petition calling for change.