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Why This German Supermarket Emptied Their Shelves

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You walk into your neighborhood supermarket—hungry, empty-handed—shopping for tonight’s dinner ingredients. Approaching the produce section, you notice something missing. In fact, you notice many things missing. The shelves are mostly empty. As are many of the freezers. What’s going on?

Shoppers at a grocery store in Hamburg, Germany, experienced something akin to an empty emporium this week. Edeka, a German supermarket chain, vacated one of their locations of all foreign products in a move to bring attention to anti-immigration politics.

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Edeka’s stunt comes as a response to waxing tides of xenophobic rhetoric in German, and European, politics. By removing the ability to consume foreign goods, the supermarket is calling attention to what a Germany with intensely closed borders could look like. They’re highlighting the importance of not only respecting commodities from other places, but people from other places as well. In essence, how can you allow oils, spreads, and soaps from countries like Syria, but then bar the people who make them?

Germany is often scrutinized, both internally and externally, for their immigration policies. But Edeka has received a spectrum of feedback, including some positive recognition from members of the German government. A senior member of Merkel's party called the campaign a "wise move" while Marcus Pretzell, a member of the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany party, countered: "Why exactly should it be wise? Is it not rather completely mad?" They plan to roll out the campaign to their other locations in the near future.

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What do you think of this supermarket choice? Make yourself heard in the comments.

Tags: grocery store, politics, immigration