Egyptian artist returns Goethe medal over German support of 'ethnic cleansing' of Palestinians

Ahram Online , Friday 8 Mar 2024

Renowned Egyptian visual artist Mohamed Abla has returned the Goethe Medal that he received in 2022 as an act of protest over what he described as Germany's "absolute and unconditional support” for Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.

Mohamed Abla


"I announce my outrage and condemnation of the official position of the German government towards the massacres and extermination that the Palestinian people are subjected to," Abla wrote on Facebook on Wednesday.

Abla expressed his initial pride and happiness in being associated with the renowned poet and thinker Goethe but said now it is “no longer appropriate” to keep the medal amid the German’s position.

"Today, we all see the position of the German government regarding the genocide of the Palestinian people in Gaza, and its absolute and unconditional support for those who commit murder and ethnic cleansing of the isolated civilians, mostly children and women."

Speaking to the media about his decision, Abla said “The Germans themselves have suffered numerous wars, killings and violations. How can they accept that such violations are now happening to the others?"

The award is bestowed annually by the German government to non-Germans who have performed outstanding service for the German language and international cultural relations. It is considered one of the highest recognitions for non-Germans.

Abla, who became the first Arab visual artist to receive such recognition in 2022, has been commended by the Goethe Institute for his role as a mediator between Egypt and Europe.

South African Artist Zukiswa Wanner – who received the recognition in 2020 – has also returned her medal.

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