German society ‘brutalized’ as far-right crimes hit record levels | Germany

Germany’s interior minister has said that a dramatic increase in far-right crime demonstrates a “brutalization” of society and poses the greatest threat to the stability of the country.

Horst Seehofer said that politically motivated crime in general was a growing problem, and as a result he committed to increased policing of protest groups.

Police recorded nearly 24,000 far-right crimes last year, an increase of nearly 6% from the previous year and the highest level since records began 20 years ago. The crimes ranged from displaying Nazi symbols and anti-Semitic comments to physical attacks and murders. The activities primarily targeted immigrants, refugees and black Germans, but also included an increase in violence against Asians, related to the pandemic.

Overall politically motivated crime increased by almost 9% to almost 45,000, with just under 11,000 incidents of left-wing extremist origin, including 1,526 cases of violence. Islamist crime was also notably higher than in previous years, Seehofer said.

The anti-Semitic attacks, which increased by almost 16% and had been carried out primarily online, were, Seehofer said, “not only alarming, but also deeply shameful given the context of our history.”

Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress, said the German figures highlight a broader issue. “This is a wake-up call, not just for Germany, but for the whole world,” he said. “These numbers should sound the alarm, because we are seeing similar trends across the Western world.”

Seehofer said the data shows “what I have been saying since the beginning of my term in office: that right-wing extremism is the biggest threat to security in our country, as most racist crimes are committed by people. of this group”.

Presenting the statistics in Berlin, Seehofer said that right-wing violence had left a “blood trail” across Germany, citing the far-right assassination of pro-refugee Christian Democratic politician Walter Lübcke in 2019 and the attack on 2020 on racial grounds in Hanau City. last year, in which a far-right gunman killed nine young men, all of immigrant origin.

There were 49 more incidents last year than the previous record during the 2016 refugee crisis during which one million refugees arrived in Germany.

Seehofer said that even if they only accounted for about 1% of all crimes, the figures showed a brutalization of German society and should act as an early warning system to expose growing trends.

Hate crimes in particular had become a yardstick for the mood in the country during the pandemic, he said, after conspiracy theorists found expression in demonstrations against coronavirus restrictions often pushed by the movement. “Querdenker” or “lateral thinker” who has ties to QAnon, America’s far-right conspiracy group. Seehofer said the demonstrations had “enormous potential for escalation.”

Almost 3,560 politically motivated crimes, including 500 violent acts, were directly related to the pandemic and were not classified as far-right or far-left. Almost 10% of the 1,260 attacks carried out against journalists occurred in conjunction with protests over the coronavirus restriction.

The authorities have expressed concern about the role that the Alternative für Deutschland party allegedly played in stoking a climate of resentment towards immigrants and the government. The party, which ranked third in Germany’s 2017 elections, has steadily moved to the right in recent years, drawing increasing scrutiny from the country’s national intelligence agency.

On Tuesday, the Afd section in Berlin condemned a member who appeared to regret the absence of attacks on Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The Business Insider news website reported that the former president of the AfD in Berlin, Günter Brinker, sent a message saying that “either that piece of land is so well protected that no one can reach it, or the Germans have no balls.”

Brinker later said that he had sent the message by mistake and that he regretted doing so, and that he rejected “all forms of hate and violence.”

On Tuesday, a 53-year-old man was arrested in Berlin, believed to have been behind more than 100 death threats against foreigners sent by letter, fax and social media, directed at prominent Germans over the past three years.

The man signed his threats with the codename NSU 2.0, a reference to the far-right terrorist cell National Socialist Underground, which between 2000 and 2007 murdered 10 people, all of whom except one, a female police officer, had an immigrant background. . The man identified only as Alexander Horst M was arrested Monday night while at his computer. It is not yet clear whether it operated alone.

www.theguardian.com

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