Hundreds of French TV Viewers Have Complained About Karl Lagerfeld’s Insensitive Syria Comments

Hundreds of French TV Viewers Have Complained About Karl Lagerfeld’s Insensitive Syria Comments

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Several hundred French TV viewers complained to France’s media regulation agency this weekend after openly gay German-born fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld appeared on the TV show Salut les Terriens! (Hello Earthlings!) and called Syrian immigrants the “worst enemies” of the Jewish people.

Lagerfeld said:

One cannot — even if there are decades between them — kill millions of Jews so you can bring millions of their worst enemies in their place. I know someone in Germany who took a young Syrian and after four days [the Syrian] said: “The greatest thing Germany invented was the Holocaust.”

Lagerfeld was criticizing the 2015 move by German Chancellor Angela Merkel to accept nearly 900,000 Syrian migrants fleeing their country’s brutal years-long civil war.

RELATED | Syria: What’s Happening and How It Affects the Country’s Gay Citizens and Refugees

In another comment on the same show, Lagerfeld referred to Merkel as the “pastor’s daughter” — both a reference to her father’s profession and a dig at her as too charitable — and said that Merkel had accepted the Syrian refugees as a way to reform her public image as a “wicked stepmother” after refusing to forgive the European Union debts contributing to Greece’s current financial crisis.

Lagerfeld said:

Suddenly we see the pastor’s daughter…. Merkel had already millions and millions [of immigrants] who are well integrated and who work and all is well. She had no need to take another million to improve her image as the wicked stepmother after the Greek crisis.

Lagerfeld is no stranger to public controversy. At a 2001 New York City, activists with the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) tried to pie him to protest his use of fur. (The tofu pie ended up hitting gay, non-fur-using designer Calvin Klein instead.) In a 2009 BBC interview, Lagerfeld said that animals would “kill us if they could” and said, “In a meat-eating world, wearing leather for shoes and clothes and even handbags, the discussion of fur is childish.” PETA called him “a fashion dinosaur” and “particularly delusional with his kill-or-be-killed mentality,” adding, “When was the last time a person’s life was threatened by a mink or rabbit?”

On Feb. 9, 2012, Lagerfeld called the British singer Adele “a little too fat,” although he added, ” but she has a beautiful face and a divine voice.” The comment offended the singer who told People magazine, “I represent the majority of women and I’m very proud of that.” Lagerfeld subsequently apologized stating, “I’d like to say to Adele that I am your biggest admirer… Sometimes when you take a sentence out of the article it changes the meaning of the thought. Adele is my favorite singer and I am a great admirer of her.”

He also and sent her many Chanel designer handbags as part of his apology.

On July 31, 2012 he also said that Pippa Middleton — sister of Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge married to Princess Di’s elder son, Prince William —  ” should only show her back,” adding “I don’t like [her] face.” 

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