New York, NY, March 19, 2014 … The Kreuzberg Initiative against Anti-Semitism (KIgA) has been honored with the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) Paul Ehrlich-Gunther K. Schwerin Human Rights Award, an award which recognizes leadership in the fight against intolerance in Europe and particularly in Germany.
KIgA, founded in 2003 in the aftermath of anti-Semitic terrorist attacks on synagogues in Istanbul, was conceived in response to increasing anti-Semitism in society. The Berlin-based nongovernmental organization educates the public about issues of anti-Semitism and works to develop strategies and pedagogical approaches to teach young people, particularly youth with Muslim backgrounds, to reject prejudice and hatred.
The award was presented by ADL National Chair Barry Curtiss-Lusher and ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman, currently traveling in Germany with an ADL leadership delegation, to Aycan Demirel, Co-Founder of KIgA, at a reception in Berlin attended by board members and supporters of the organization.
“Combating anti-Semitism among Muslims is one of the toughest challenges in anti-bias education, because you must do more than address the pernicious secular stereotypes of Jews,” Mr. Foxman said in presenting the award. “You must do more than counter the anti-Semitism based on radical interpretations of Islam. You must also contend with all the complications arising from conflicts between Israel and its neighbors. As members of a minority religious immigrant community living in Germany, KIgA inspires all of us by undertaking this task.”
The ADL Paul Ehrlich-Gunther K. Schwerin Human Rights Award was established in 1998 by ADL, in conjunction with a descendant of Professor Paul Ehrlich, to honor the late Gunther Schwerin, grandson of the renowned German-Jewish scientist, and Dr. Ehrlich, discoverer of the cure for a disease that had ravaged people for centuries.
More than a great scientist, Ehrlich was a great humanitarian who represented the best in German and German-Jewish society before the Nazi juggernaut destroyed both. Schwerin upheld his grandfather’s legacy to battle intolerance and established this award to honor those who have fought anti-Semitism throughout Germany and Europe.
Past recipients of the award have included Matthais Kuntzel, German author and political scientist (2011); Dr. Gerhard Conrad, the German mediator who helped secure the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit (2011); Otto Schily, German Minister of the Interior (2006); Gert Weisskirchen; member of the Bundestag and Vice President, OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (2005); Rudolf Scharping, German Minister of Defense (2000); and Dr. Rita Sussmuth, former president of the Bundestag (1999).