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6 Jan, 2021 11:44

Time to change? Mixed response after German officials cheer diversity campaign to give names of migrant origin to weather events

Time to change? Mixed response after German officials cheer diversity campaign to give names of migrant origin to weather events

The German migration agency has praised a campaign to showcase ethnic diversity by giving names of foreign origin to weather events. The initiative did not go down well with everyone though.

“We live in an immigration country. Nevertheless, the weather highs and lows [anticyclone and cyclone] are almost always given names like Gisela and Helmut. It’s time to change that,” a diversity group wrote on their #WeatherCorrection project’s website. The campaign to bring “new” German names into weather forecasts involves activists from Germany, Switzerland, and Austria.

“After all, Germans also have names like Ahmet, Chana, Khue und Romani,” the website said

Pretty much anyone can choose the name of a cyclone or an anti-cyclone for a fee of between €240 and €360 ($296-$444) paid to the Free University of Berlin’s Institute of Meteorology, with the proceeds going to student projects. The names are then used in official weather reports.

Fourteen such names were acquired through the initiative for 2021. So this year, Germany will see weather events with names of Arabic and Turkish origin, like Ahmet, Cemal and Jussuf, as well as Bozena, Bartosz, Irek, Dragica, Goran, and Chana, which are of Polish, south Slavic, and Hebrew origin.

The country’s migration and integration minister’s office praised the campaign in a series of tweets. “Ahmet or Alex, the main thing is the weather report! In 2021, it will be as diverse as our society, and that’s a good thing.” 

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The initiative, however, was met with a mixed response online.

“A very nice idea! And yes, our society is diverse – even if some don’t want to hear that or accept that,” one person tweeted.

Others called the idea “stupid” and complained about the “ideological indoctrination through the weather reports.”

“Thank you! The naming of high- and low-pressure areas is certainly one of the biggest issues in Germany. It doesn’t really matter whether the Ahmets and the Stafenies also get top education and well-paid jobs,” one person complained.

There are also those who say no one really cares about the names of weather events, while others find the campaign amusing. “Most high- and low-pressure areas have a migrant background, but little is known about the sexual orientation,” one Twitter user said.

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