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Emergence of the extreme right in Germany: how the migrant crisis in 2015 led to a setback that AfD has seen growing

With the rise of the extreme right in Germany, the AfD has taken record places in parliament and an increase in hate crimes and terrorist attacks, with another fatal shooting last night.

Tobias Rathjen, a 43-year-old neo-Nazi, killed nine people in two shisha bars in the city of Hanau after publishing a 24-page manifesto about “impure” races.

Thursday’s attack comes after the murder of pro-migrant politician Walyer Luebcke in June, an archer’s attack on a synagogue in the city of Halle in October, and last week the arrest of 12 people suspected of a “civil war” to stir up.

The swing to the right began in 2015 when Chancellor Angela Merkel opened the borders for migrants crossing the Mediterranean – notorious for declaring ‘Wir schaffen das’ (we can do it).

In that year alone, about a million migrants entered the country, followed by headlines about sexual attacks, especially on New Year’s Eve 2015/16 when more than 1,000 women in 12 cities, including Cologne, claimed to have been sexually abused, mostly by immigrants .

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The extreme right-wing shooter Stephan Balliet opened fire on a German synagogue during Yom Kippur in October last year - trying to get in and unable to kill worshipers - before he shot two people and injured two others outside

The extreme right-wing shooter Stephan Balliet opened fire on a German synagogue during Yom Kippur in October last year – trying to get in and unable to kill worshipers – before he shot two people and injured two others outside

A car with dead bodies stands in front of a bar in Hanau, Germany, after the deadly shootings of last night, the latest right-wing attack to rattle the country

A car with dead bodies stands in front of a bar in Hanau, Germany, after the deadly shootings of last night, the latest right-wing attack to rattle the country

A car with dead bodies stands in front of a bar in Hanau, Germany, after the deadly shootings of last night, the latest right-wing attack to rattle the country

An extreme right-wing shooter, only referred to as Tobias R (photo) by the German media, opened fire at two shisha bars in the city of Hanau at night, killing nine people before returning to his parents' apartment before his mother and then shot herself

An extreme right-wing shooter, only referred to as Tobias R (photo) by the German media, opened fire at two shisha bars in the city of Hanau at night, killing nine people before returning to his parents' apartment before his mother and then shot herself

An extreme right-wing shooter, only referred to as Tobias R (photo) by the German media, opened fire at two shisha bars in the city of Hanau at night, killing nine people before returning to his parents’ apartment before his mother and then shot herself

In 2017, anger over the attacks combined with fear of integration expressed record support for the extreme right-wing AfD in the national elections in Germany – making them 94 seats in parliament, making them the third largest party.

The rise of the political movement of the AfD is reflected in a rise of extreme right-wing extremism, including two high-profile attacks last year.

The German Chancellor Angela Merkel was shown during a press conference yesterday

The German Chancellor Angela Merkel was shown during a press conference yesterday

The German Chancellor Angela Merkel was shown during a press conference yesterday

In June, politician Walter Luebcke, who had a strong pro-migrant vision and led a regional government in the city of Kassel, was found dead outside his home after a single shot to the head.

A 45-year-old man with a history of violent hate crimes was subsequently arrested, in what, according to police, was a targeted murder that resulted from extreme-extremist right-wing ideology.

Then, in October of the same year, an extreme right-wing extremist attacked a synagogue in the German city of Halle on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, with guns and explosives.

After trying and not getting into the synagogue, Stephan Balliet shot two people and injured two others, including attacking a nearby kebab store before he was arrested.

The German police also found an increase in hate crimes, which rose from 7,913 to 8,113 in 2018, the majority of which is attributed to the extreme right. Anti-Semitic crimes also rose in the same period, from 1,504 to 1,799.

In 2018, anti-terror police also seized 1,091 weapons related to crimes committed by alleged extreme right-wing extremists, an increase of 61 percent over 2017 when experts warned of “mass rearmament” by neo-Nazi groups.

Walter Luebcke

Walter Luebcke

Extreme right-wing arrests last week

Extreme right-wing arrests last week

Pro-migrant politician Walter Luebcke (left) was shot outside his home in 2019 by an extreme right-wing attacker. German police arrested 12 people, including one of their own employees, who planned more attacks on politicians last week (right)

After not entering the synagogue, Balliet opened fire on passers-by (photo) before turning the corner to a kebab shop and shooting through the windows

After not entering the synagogue, Balliet opened fire on passers-by (photo) before turning the corner to a kebab shop and shooting through the windows

After not entering the synagogue, Balliet opened fire on passers-by (photo) before turning the corner to a kebab shop and shooting through the windows

And in the first half of 2019 alone, the police registered 8,605 extreme right-wing crimes – an increase of 900 in the same period of 2018.

Last week, 12 people, including a German police officer, were arrested and accused of conspiring to create a “civil war” with attacks on migrants, asylum seekers, politicians and Muslims.

The group planned to use semi-automatic weapons to copy the March attacks in Christchurch in New Zealand, where 51 people were killed in two mosques.

The suspects, all of whom are German nationals, also included a police officer who had previously been suspended over his right-wing ties.

One of the suspects (dressed in the blue jacket) is being taken to his court on Saturday at the Federal Supreme Court in Karlsruhe

One of the suspects (dressed in the blue jacket) is being taken to his court on Saturday at the Federal Supreme Court in Karlsruhe

One of the suspects (dressed in the blue jacket) is being taken to his court on Saturday at the Federal Supreme Court in Karlsruhe

A suspected German extreme right-wing extremist is bundled in a van by masked federal police officers in Karlsruhe after the gang was arrested

A suspected German extreme right-wing extremist is bundled in a van by masked federal police officers in Karlsruhe after the gang was arrested

A suspected German extreme right-wing extremist is bundled in a van by masked federal police officers in Karlsruhe after the gang was arrested

Interior Ministry spokesman Gruenewaelder said police have identified about 50 extreme right-wing supporters as “dangerous” individuals who could carry out a violent attack, compared to 660 Islamists and fewer than 10 extreme left-wing extremists.

In the summer of 2019, the authorities arrested more than 30 people associated with a neo-Nazi movement called “Northern Cross.”

They were suspected of killing a number of left and pro-migrant figures after ordering body bags and quicklime, a chemical that is often distributed on mass grave sites, regional newspaper group RND reported.

Yesterday, the Merkel government approved new design measures to prevent the spread of online hatred.

One important measure in the bill will increase the pressure on social network companies such as Facebook and Twitter to quickly remove the offensive content.

In the future, the Silicon Valley giants will also have to report certain types of illegal posts to the federal police, who can pass on useful data to prosecutors.

Neo-Nazi propaganda or plans to commit a terrorist attack would fall under such rules.

The bill would tighten the sentence even further for crimes resulting from an anti-Semitic motive, which the Ministry of Justice says has increased by 40 percent since 2013.

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