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How did Gigi D'Agostino's techno classic about love become far-right hate song in Germany?

Revelers party at a concert.
Revelers party at a concert. Copyright Barry Brecheisen/Barry Brecheisen/Invision/AP
Copyright Barry Brecheisen/Barry Brecheisen/Invision/AP
By Frank Weinert
Published on
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Italian DJ's techno love song from 1999 has sparked outrage and bans in Germany after being adopted by extremists. What is going on?

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Love. The Italian DJ Gigi D'Agostino sings so beautifully about it in his techno anthem, L'Amour Toujours. But now the 1999 song is getting blacklisted by some.

At the Munich Oktoberfest in Germany, organisers want to ban the song to prevent racist singing by beered-up visitors as it has taken on right-wing extremist connotation in recent weeks. 

“We want to ban it and I will ban it”, Oktoberfest boss Clemens Baumgärtner (CSU) told the German news agency dpa. “There's no place for all that right-wing bullshit at the Wiesn,” he added, using the colloquial name for the event. 

The Oktoberfest is a “light-footed and beautiful” event with many foreign guests, according to Baumgärtner, who said right-wing slogans have already been prevented in the past. 

“The Wiesn is apolitical,” he added. 

But what is going on?  

Nazi slogans to disco music

The whole thing was triggered by a scandal last week on the German North Sea island of Sylt. 

Guests at the up-market Pony Bar in Kampen sang “Foreigners out” and “Germany is for Germans” to the seemingly harmless disco hit. One man reportedly imitated the Hitler salute. Someone filmed the scene, and it immediately went viral online. 

A young black woman was allegedly racially insulted by partygoers and then punched in the face.

Police have launched an investigation. 

Other extremist renditions of L'Amour Toujours were also reported at other events across Germany.

From Deutsche Bank to Vodafone, German companies have reacted to allegations their employees were involved in the racist incident.

Two employers have already said they have dismissed employees caught in the footage.

The judiciary has also threatened consequences. Thorkild Petersen-Thrö from the Flensburg public prosecutor's office in northern Germany said: “In our view, the slogans ‘Germany to the Germans’ and ‘foreigners out' are punishable (offences)."

"In case of incitement to hatred, there is a minimum prison sentence of three months and a maximum of five years," he added. 

D'Agostino has said his party hit is about love for his wife, family, music and dancing.

“My song is about a wonderful, great and intense feeling that connects people. It is love,” he previously said. 

According to the German newspaper Der Spiegel, D'Agostino has not addressed the recent racist incidents, claiming to be unaware of what happened in a written statement.

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Slogans 'deeply inhumane'

Speaking on the ARD talk show Caren Miosga, German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser criticised the slogans, calling them “deeply inhuman and racist”. 

"We must be careful that the values in our democracy do not shift," she added. 

Faeser said she was not surprised by the outbursts, however. 

"Studies have shown for years that right-wing ideas are deeply rooted in the heart of society," she said. 

Concern towards the far right is growing in Germany following reports earlier this year that extremists met to discuss deporting millions of immigrants, including some with German citizenship.

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The populist AfD party has, in turn, seen a surge in popularity over the last five years, with support doubling since the country's 2021 election.

Germany's domestic intelligence agency says the number of far-right extremists has been rising. In 2022, they recorded 38,800 people, 14,000 of them considered potentially violent. The agency's head, Thomas Haldenwang, said the numbers are believed to have risen again last year.

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