“Climate terrorists” is the 2022 “non-word of the year” in Germany, chosen by a jury to shine an unflattering spotlight on words they deem discriminatory, disguising, or misleading.
The jury, made up of four linguists and a journalist, made the announcement Tuesday in Marburg in the German state of Hesse.
The term has been used in public debate to “discredit” activists and their protests for more climate protection, the jury said, explaining its choice.
It criticized the use of the term because activists are “equated with terrorists and thus criminalized and defamed.”
Non-violent forms of civil disobedience and democratic resistance are thus placed in the context of violence and hostility to the state, the jury argued.
The “Unwort des Jahres” (non-word of the year), chosen in Germany since 1991, is intended to draw attention to inappropriate use of language and thus raise awareness of the need for thoughtful use of terms.
Climate protests by groups such as Last Generation are increasingly drawing criticism in Germany. During protests, activists have stuck themselves to roads or blocked airport runways, among other actions
Last November, Federal Justice Minister Marco Buschmann and Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing sharply criticized the activists.
“Anyone who forcibly cuts a fence, enters an airfield, and obstructs air traffic there is guilty of multiple offenses,” Buschmann told the newspaper Bild am Sonntag.
He added: “Violence as a means of political confrontation has no place in democracy.”
Chancellor Olaf Scholz also criticized the activists. At a regional party conference in Brandenburg last November, Scholz described actions such as the runway blockade as “highly dangerous.”
He advised those involved to consider a different approach than one that would meet with little acceptance.