German society “brutalized” as far-right crimes reach record levels | Germany
The German Interior Minister said that a dramatic increase in far-right crime demonstrated a “brutalization” of society and posed the greatest threat to the stability of the country.
Horst Seehofer said politically motivated crime in general was a growing problem, committing to more police surveillance of protest groups as a result.
Police recorded nearly 24,000 far-right crimes last year, an increase of almost 6% from the previous year and the highest level since records began 20 years ago. Crimes ranged from displaying Nazi symbols and anti-Semitic remarks to physical assault and murder. Activities primarily targeted immigrants, refugees and black Germans, but also included an increase in anti-Asian violence, linked to the pandemic.
Politically motivated crime in general increased by almost 9% to almost 45,000, with just under 11,000 incidents with a history of left-wing extremism, including 1,526 cases of violence. Islamist crime was also significantly higher than in previous years, Seehofer said.
Anti-Semitic attacks, which increased by almost 16% and had been carried out mainly online, were, said Seehofer, “not only alarming but because of the context of our history, also deeply shameful”.
Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress, said the German figures highlight a larger problem. “This is a wake-up call, not only for Germany, but for the whole world,” he said. “These numbers should sound the alarm as we are seeing similar trends in the Western world.”
Seehofer said the data showed “what I have been saying since the start of my term: that right-wing extremism is the greatest security threat in our country, as the majority of racist crimes are committed by people. belonging to this group ”.
Presenting the statistics in Berlin, Seehofer said right-wing violence had left a ‘blood trail’ across Germany, citing the murder of far-right far-right Christian Democrat pro-refugee politician Walter Lübcke in 2019 and the 2020 racist attack in the city of Hanau. last year, in which a far-right gunman killed nine young people, all of immigrant background.
There were 49 more incidents last year than the previous record recorded during the refugee crisis in 2016, in which one million refugees arrived in Germany.
Seehofer said that although they only accounted for about 1% of all crimes, the numbers demonstrate brutality of German society and should serve as an early warning system to expose growing trends.
Hate crimes in particular had become a measure of the state of mind in the country during the pandemic, he said, after conspiracy theorists spoke out in protests against restrictions on coronaviruses , often motivated by the “Querdenker” or “lateral thinker” movement which has ties to QAnon, the American far-right conspiracy group. Seehofer said the protests had “enormous potential for escalation.”
Almost 3,560 politically motivated crimes, including 500 acts of violence, were directly linked to the pandemic and were not classified as far-right or far-left. Almost 10% of the 1,260 attacks on journalists took place as part of protests against the coronavirus restriction.
The authorities have expressed concern over the role that the Alternative für Deutschland party may have played in fostering a climate of resentment against immigrants and the government. The party, which came third in the 2017 German election, has gradually shifted to the right in recent years, increasingly attracting the attention of the country’s national intelligence agency.
On Tuesday, the Afd section in Berlin condemned an MP who appeared to deplore the lack of attacks against Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The Business Insider news site reported that former AfD Berlin chairman Günter Brinker delivered a message that “either this piece of land is so well protected that no one can reach it or the Germans don’t have balls?
Brinker later said he sent the message in error and regretted it, and rejected “all forms of hatred and violence”.
On Tuesday, a 53-year-old man was arrested in Berlin, believed to have been behind more than 100 anti-foreigner death threats sent by letter, fax and social media, targeting prominent Germans over the past three years .
The man signed his threats with the code name NSU 2.0, a reference to the far-right National Socialist Underground terrorist cell, which between 2000 and 2007 murdered 10 people, all of whom but one, a policewoman, were from immigration. The man identified only as Alexander Horst M was arrested Monday evening while at his computer. It is not yet known whether he operated alone.