German minister sparks Twitter frenzy after calling singer a 'wonderful negro' on live TV

Joachim Herrmann (L) © Michael Dalder and Roberto Blanco © Fabian Bimmer
An interior minister from Bavaria has sparked outrage on social media after calling singer Roberto Blanco a “wonderful negro” on live television and refusing to apologize afterwards. The comment was made during a discussion on Europe's migrant crisis.

The remark from Joachim Herrmann of the CDU party came during a panel discussion about refugees on the television show “Hart aber Fair” (“Tough but Fair”) on Monday, The Local reported.

Herrmann chimed in after one of the panel members, Focus magazine editor-in-chief Ulrich Reitz, turned the topic to migrant success stories.

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Referencing the Tunisian-born singer, Herrmann said that “Roberto Blanco has always been a wonderful negro, who most Germans have delighted in.” He used the word “neger,” the term most closely associated with “negroe” in the German language.

He added that many footballers with “black skin” play for Bayern-Munich FC, much to the delight of fans.

The comments left host Frank Plasberg visibly surprised and somewhat speechless.

But social media users are seemingly anything but speechless. The Twitter hashtag #Neger was the number one trending topic in Germany on Tuesday morning.

Responding to Herrmann's comments, Twitter user @Herzistvoll sarcastically wrote: "A 'Negro' is only wonderful when he amuses white people with singing, dancing and football.”

That comment was echoed by @TheGoodOldGamer, who said that Herrmann "also has nothing against #Negroes who do the housework and work in the fields.”

User @maxgezwitscher expressed frustration that Herrmann holds public office, saying: "Can somebody tell me why people like Joachim Herrmann are allowed to represent Germany?"

An online comment from Berlin daily Tagesspiegel joked about Herrmann's outdated statements, saying that "little Joachim would like to be picked up from the 1950s.”

But Blanco himself isn't among the angry; he responded to the controversy by saying he wasn't offended. He did, however, suggest the minister should have used a different term.

"I can't imagine that he spoke with hostile intent," Blanco told Focus Online. "It would have been smarter, however, if he hadn't used the word 'negro,' but 'colored person.'"

Hermann defended his comments on Tuesday morning, saying they followed remarks from a caller who had first used the term, saying he “did not want to have negroes at all.”

The interior minister said the caller's comment was "completely unacceptable,” adding that "I usually don't use the word negro at all.”

Blanco, 78, is a much loved singer in Germany. Born in Tunisia, he grew up in Beirut and Madrid before moving to Germany in the 1950s.

He performed in film and movies, and was given his own television show “Heute so, Morgen so” in the early 1970s. His most famous song, "Ein bisschen spaß muss sein” ("You need to have a little fun") was released in 1972.