Diplomat on human rights issues

He has appeared in front of the camera with Ingrid Bergman and Curd Jurgens and coined the term "multicultural society" in 1980. Now Jurgen Micksch has been dismissed as Pro-Asyl chairman. Started his career as a fighter against prejudice in Christian work with foreigners.

Jurgen Micksch is a diplomat in human rights matters. Always friendly and charming in his demeanor, but tough as nails and extremely goal-oriented in his work. For 26 years, the founder of Pro Asyl has been campaigning for the rights of refugees; on Saturday, he handed over his honorary office to a younger man. However, the 71-year-old will keep his seven other chairmanships, such as the Intercultural Council, the Abrahamic Forum and the Interreligious Conference.

Who could be more qualified to talk about flight and expulsion than Jurgen Micksch himself?. Just four years old, he has to flee with his parents from the approaching Red Army from Wroclaw in Silesia. The family makes their way to Austria and then on to Lower Bavaria, where they are not exactly welcomed with open arms by the locals.

From the beautiful world of make-believe to theology studies
The 1950s take a miraculous turn for the "refugee child". At an audition for a school theater production, the nine-year-old son of a confectioner is chosen from among 40 applicants and built up to become a child star. He plays the "boy" in Fritz Kortner's production of "Waiting for Godot" at the Munich Kammerspiele and the HJ leader Heini in the film "08/15". He plays with the "Norman closet" Curd Jurgens and with Ingrid Bergman.

At 19, Micksch is fed up with the glittering world, "also because I have experienced the poverty of many actors firsthand". He studied philosophy and theology in Munich, Heidelberg, Tubingen, Berlin and Erlangen, among other things, "because I wanted to deal critically with the message of the Gospel.". He then slips into the role that, he is convinced, suits him best: Of the fighter against prejudices and stereotypes, the moderator and co-creator of integration.

Initially involved in the church's work with foreigners
As early as 1975, Micksch founded the "Day of the Foreign Fellow Citizen," and from 1974 to 1984, as the youngest member of the Church Council at that time, he established the work with foreigners of the Protestant Church in Germany and in 1980 formulated the thesis of the Federal Republic as a "multicultural society. This earns him criticism and malice from all sides, not least from the church. Nevertheless, he entered their service twice more: from 1984 to 1993 as deputy director of the Protestant Academy in Tutzing and then until 2001 as intercultural commissioner in Hesse-Nassau.

1986 Micksch initiates the federal working group for refugees, Pro Asyl. "The mood against refugees and asylum seekers was poisoned in the mid-1980s," he recalls. With the growing number of people seeking help, xenophobic sentiment boiled over more and more, culminating in the arson attack on a home for asylum seekers in Rostock-Lichtenhagen in 1992. At the end of the year, the amendment of the basic right to asylum, which was made possible with the help of the SPD opposition, was passed.

Against separate poverty thresholds for asylum seekers
Since then, the refugee aid organization has been fighting against the worse treatment of asylum seekers compared to domestic welfare recipients contained in the so-called asylum compromise, among other things with the campaign "Treat people like people". In this respect, Micksch is particularly pleased that the Federal Constitutional Court ruled in July of this year that the Asylum Seekers' Benefits Act was unconstitutional.

Micksch is pleased and grateful for the backing of more than 15.000 supporting members, who donate around one million euros a year to Pro Asyl's work. Another million comes from donors and sponsors. This enables Pro Asyl to work for the welfare of those seeking protection completely independently of political interests. "This is unique in all of Europe".

Andreas Lipsch takes over as chairman
The new chairman of Pro Asyl is the intercultural representative of the Protestant Church and the Diakonisches Werk in Hessen und Nassau, Andreas Lipsch. The 52-year-old has been a member of the board of the association since 2008.

Lipsch told the Evangelical Press Service after his election that he had already been involved with the refugee ie for years, including as a moderator and spokesman for the deportation monitoring forum at Frankfurt Airport. Like his predecessor, he sees himself as a moderator and fighter for the rights of refugees in Germany and Europe and tries to continue his successful work. He also wants to help "preserve Pro Asyl's financial independence, which is unique in Europe," he says.

Lipsch studied philosophy and theology in Berlin and Marburg. In 2001 he was appointed Intercultural Representative in Hessen-Nassau. Previously, he worked, among other things, eight years as a parish priest in Neu-Isenburg near Frankfurt am Main and three years as an employee of a development organization in Rome.

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