Germany sees rise in antisemitic, political crimes

Germany saw a rise both far-right and far-left crimes in 2019, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer announced at a press conference in Berlin.

The country’s police recorded just over 41,000 cases of politically motivated crime last year, representing a rise of 14.2% compared to 2018, when there were just over 36,000.

More than half of all cases could be attributed to the far-right scene, the statistics show, with 22,342 cases, representing a 9.4% increase. The politically motivated crimes recorded ranged from verbal abuse, spreading racist propaganda, hate speech, to assault, arson, and murder. There has also been a 23% rise in far-left crime, focused particularly in the eastern city of Leipzig.

Authorities recorded 2,032 crimes motivated by antisemitism – a rise of 13% over 2018, and the highest since those statistics were collected. Some 93.4% of those crimes were carried out by far-right perpetrators. Seehofer said there was a similar figure – 90.1% – for Islamophobic crimes, which have also risen by 4% to 950 cases.

The figures show that 36.8% of far-right crimes involve “propaganda offenses,” 13.7% involve “racist hate speech,” 4.9% property damage, and 4.4% violence against people.

Last week, Seehofer attended the first meeting of a newly established Cabinet committee, chaired by Chancellor Angela Merkel, to fight right-wing extremism and racism. “It was a very, very good and deep discussion,” Seehofer said. A cabinet report on new measures is planned for next spring.

The data was released as police in Germany raided 25 premises linked to 31 suspected members of anti-government Reich Citizens Movement — a movement that overlaps with far-right extremist groups.

The group was suspected of making fake documents, including passports, driver’s licenses and birth certificates. The raids took place in the states of Hesse and Baden-Württemberg.

A faction of the group was officially banned by Seehofer in March for its antisemitic and right-wing sympathies.

Reacting on this news, the President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Dr. Josef Schuster stated: “The attack in Halle last year was emblematic. Antisemitism has become an everyday experience for Jews in Germany. Particularly online, we are confronted with unrestrained hatred, but also on the street and in schools there hatred of Jews is a massive problem. Unfortunately, the coronavirus crisis has had an intensifying effect, and so we are confronted once again with a massive rise in antisemitism. Followers of conspiracy myths and opponents of the measures against the pandemic do not even shy away from relativising the Holocaust”.

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