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Obama to visit Germany in May for Protestant gathering


Former US president Barack Obama is to visit Germany at the end of May to attend a Protestant church gathering, organizers and the former president’s office said Tuesday.

Obama, who spoke in Berlin as a senator during his election campaign in 2008 and visited the country six times as president, is to participate in a discussion round, along with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, on the theme of “shaping democracy – taking responsibility at home and in the world” on May 25.

Obama will join Merkel at the capital’s iconic Brandenburg Gate for conversation on the “importance of democracy and taking on responsibility locally and globally,” his spokesman, Eric Schultz, said.


Obama was invited to attend last year. Additional details will be announced in the coming weeks, Schultz said.

The Deutscher Evangelischer Kirchentag (German Protestant Church Assembly) takes place every two years as a gathering of lay members of Germany’s Protestant Church.

This year’s events will be held from May 24 to May 28, in Berlin and the eastern city of Wittenberg, where Martin Luther wrote his 95 theses 500 years ago and, according to legend, nailed them to the church door. The event is expected to draw some 140,000 attendees. Its closing worship service in Wittenberg could attract 200,000.

Obama used to be a member of a Protestant church in Chicago, but left the church amid controversial remarks by his former pastor. He attended services at various churches as president and is said to have consulted the Bible regularly during his presidency.

The event will be the first international event for the Obama Foundation, which has a focus on getting involved in democracy on the local and global level.

The former president has also expressed an interest in visiting Munich’s Oktoberfest, an annual event that draws up to 6 million people to the capital of staunchly Catholic Bavaria every autumn.

Obama’s Berlin address in July 2008 was seen as a major event in his campaign for the presidency, drawing a crowd of 200,000 to Berlin’s central Tiergarten park.

As president, he visited twice in 2009, in 2013, in 2015 and twice again in 2016, the last visit as part of a valedictory tour of Europe weeks before he handed power over to Donald Trump.

During his May trip to Germany, Obama is also to receive the 2016 German Media Prize, the Media Control market research agency said.

The prize, voted on by the editors of the country’s main dailies and magazines, was awarded to the former president as a globally recognized international politician.

Obama “embodies the vision of a world in which there is hope and change for the better is possible,” said Karlheinz Koegel, founder of Media Control.

Obama is to receive the award, which does not involve any reward, in person in Baden-Baden on May 25.