Wednesday, June 29 2016

Far-right extremism in Germany

BBC Newsnight last night broadcast a special report on the rising threat of a violent, militant and racist far-right movement in Germany. The movement has increasingly been the focus of media attention after it emerged that a neo-Nazi cell was responsible for a string of murders in the German republic.

Human rights groups say that neo-Nazis have been responsible for more murders in post-war Germany than any other group, including Islamists and far leftists.

A corresponding article on the BBC website on the Newsnight broadcast has these details:

“The security services in Germany are scrambling to track down and arrest far-right fugitives and Germany's federal and state interior ministers have announced they are taking concrete steps towards banning the country's far right National Democratic Party, the NPD.

“This comes after a public outcry following revelations in November that a neo-Nazi cell had apparently been able to go on a nationwide spree of racially motivated murders over several years, under the noses of the German intelligence services.

“The group of three are being held responsible for the deaths of eight Turkish and one Greek immigrant between 2000 and 2006, as well as a German policewoman in 2007.

“Yet the existence of the group…only came to light in November when two of its members died in an apparent joint suicide or murder-suicide and the third handed herself in to the authorities.

“The NPD has been linked to the group, though the allegations have yet to be accepted in a court of law.

“It turns out intelligence agencies had had the group under surveillance for years, and even found a bomb-making factory in their garage back in 1998.

“So why were the trio not stopped earlier? Why were they allowed to disappear and then stay underground? And why was it that security services blamed the murders on the Turkish mafia at the time? A right-wing motive was never investigated.

Newsnight spoke to Peter Altmaier, a senior official in Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrat party, who stated that, "There have been hints and indications of right-wing extremism that were not taken seriously enough, and therefore we have put this very high on the political agenda."

The article continues, “Another question that now worries many Germans is just how big a threat the far right poses.

“Human rights groups say more than 180 people have been killed in right-wing attacks in Germany over the last 20 years.

“Neo-Nazis have murdered more people in post-war Germany than any other single group, including Islamists and the far left. But this is not yet reflected in official data.

Newsnight also spoke to a former neo-Nazi leader, ‘Martin’ who has now left the movement, who says that “The scene is armed. It's military.

"Weapons training is carried out in secret. In the Arab world, for example, with freedom movements there. The right-wing scene sees itself as a freedom movement."

The BBC continues, “There is a growing collection of secretive far-right groups in Germany which call themselves the "Free Forces".

“Intelligence services say this is the fastest-spreading section of Germany's far-right movement.

“They say the cliche of the neo-Nazi being a boot-wearing, young, unemployed male skinhead is out of date. Nowadays you cannot always tell who is a neo-Nazi and who is not.

"The leadership is always trying to attract members of the so-called upper classes and students who, one day, can act as lawyers or doctors for the far right," Martin explained.

Newsnight also spoke to Udo Pastoers, a leading member of the National Democratic Party, the legal political element of the far-right in Germany. He told Newsnight, that the birth-rate in Germany is too low and that German women should reproduce more, saying, "Imagine a country called Germany that is filled only with Africans, Arabs, Asians. Biology is our priority."

The article concludes, “Germany's far right is a minority movement but one the country's authorities cannot afford to ignore.”

The report highlights the serious threat of far-right extremism in Europe, and comes days before an international far-right anti-Islam rally is due to take place in Denmark this Saturday.

Several reports have been released in the past six months which seek to explore the rise of anti-Islamic, far right groups in Britain and Europe. A report published by Demos in November found that “a significant number of Europeans are concerned about the erosion of their national culture in the face of immigration, the growth of Islam in Europe, and the blurring of national borders as a result of European integration and globalisation.”

The most recent report, by Matthew Goodwin and Jocelyn Evans, found ‘significant support’ for violent attacks amongst Britain’s far-right extremists.

The full report from Newsnight is available to watch here on BBC iPlayer.

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