German broadcaster RTL on Wednesday distanced itself from pop singer Xavier Naidoo after a video circulating on social media appeared to show him singing xenophobic lyrics in an apparent reference to refugees and migrants.
In the video, Naidoo can be seen singing lyrics, such as: “What if almost every day there’s a murder where the guest steals a life from the host. I have to choose harsh words. Because I don’t want anyone to torture my people. If they do, they’ll have to deal with me.”
For years, Naidoo — a 48-year-old German pop singer of South African parents and a judge on RTL’s talent-seeking show “Deutschland sucht den Superstar” — has been accused of propagating racism and far-right sentiment with his lyrics.
After the latest video, apparently made by Naidoo himself, went viral on Wednesday, the commercial broadcaster confirmed that Naidoo has been removed from the panel.
“We distance ourselves from any form of racism,” RTL said in a German-language tweet. “We expect clear answers from Xavier Naidoo.”
Hours later, Naidoo rejected the allegations, saying he believes those fleeing war should receive assistance and solidarity.
“I have been campaigning against exclusion and racial hatred for years with deep conviction,” Naidoo said in a Facebook post. “Love and respect are the only way for social coexistence.”
But Naidoo has courted controversy in the past. In 2015, he was chosen to represent Germany at the Eurovision contest but his candidacy was later withdrawn due to protests against his nomination. He is viewed positively in far-right circles, according to German left-leaning newspaper TAZ.
Germany’s anti-Semitism commissioner, Felix Klein, said in January that lyrics from artists such as Naidoo and rapper Kollegah have contributed to an acceptance of openly racist expression under the guise of provocation and free speech.
ls/dj (dpa, KNA)