German teenager chosen to open Christmas market object of racist slurs

A selection committee in Nuremberg last week picked Benigna Munsi, 17, as the traditional “Christkind” (Christ Child).

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The Christkind — an angelic figure, traditionally dressed in white and gold robes and wearing a crown atop her long, flowing curls (usually a blond wig) — has long been the symbol of Nuremberg’s Christmas Market. She opens the market — a major tourist attraction in the city — each year by reciting a festive prologue.

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But apparently not everyone was happy about the dark-haired Munsi’s selection. CNN affiliate RTL reports that her father, a German citizen, is of Indian heritage. Her mother is German.

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According to German media reports, a member of a district branch of the AfD suggested in a now-deleted Facebook post that Germans were being wiped out like Native Americans.

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The post read: “Nuremberg has a new Christ Child. One day, we’re going to go the way of the Indians.”

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A spokesperson for the AfD confirmed to CNN the post had been deleted and said it does “not reflect” the opinion of the party.

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Ulrich Maly, the mayor of Nuremberg, has publicly condemned such opposition and has strongly backed Munsi, who was born in the Bavarian city, for the role.

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At a press conference held Sunday, he said that there had been some “idiotic” reactions to the news, but that some had “openly racist connotations.”

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During the press conference, footage of which appears on YouTube, he said: “You would laugh, if you didn’t realize that the people who are posting such things mean them seriously. [Then] you could cry at so much hostility.”

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“The Nuremberg Christkind is the Nuremberg Christkind,” he added. “It is absolutely not a question of ethnicity nor of nationality. It is a figure who must be played by a young woman with a lot of empathy, a lot of heart and a lot of compassion.”

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According to Nuremberg Christmas Market’s official website, the Christkind’s other tasks in the run-up to Christmas include more than 170 appearances at charity events.

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Elected for a two-year term, she “acts as an ambassador for Nuremberg when she visits Christmas markets in other cities,” the event page states.

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Munsi told the press conference that she had been “surprised by the positive reaction” she has had.

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But speaking about some of the negative responses, she said: “It makes me sad for people who go through life with such a perspective, which means they can’t focus on what’s important in the world, above all at Christmas time.”

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Markus Söder, the leader of the state of Bavaria, tweeted his congratulations to Munsi, and condemned the criticism that had been directed toward her.

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In a statement to CNN, a spokesman for the AfD said: “The post has already been deleted. The AfD Federal Association dissociates itself from this post. It is a post of a single person and does not reflect the opinion of the party. The AfD is firmly committed to the German constitution.”

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