The row flared up when police in Cologne said they prevented trouble on New Year’s Eve by screening 650 Nafris and removing 190 from the city centre and detaining 92.
The operation followed intense criticism of the police for failing to protect hundreds of women from being sexually molested, mostly by North African men, a year ago.
But the Nafri tag has set off a war of wards with some politicians on the left denouncing it as racist while defenders argue it is just one more acronym in a language filled with difficult compound nouns.
He said the row was “grist to the mill” of the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party as it prepares for an election in May in North Rhine-Westphalia, the state that includes Cologne, and for a federal election in September.
He said: ”Police are being accused of racial profiling. What are they supposed to do? Screen all young women or grannies?”
Racial profiling is not legal in Germany but police have powers to screen anyone seen as a potential security threat.
A Forsa opinion poll for RTL TV found 79 percent believed Cologne police acted appropriately on New Year’s Eve.