Germany ups fight against antisemitism and far-right extremism

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Cabinet passed new measures aimed at helping fight far-right extremism and antisemitism following the last attack on a synagogue in Halle.

The proposals include tightening gun laws, stepping up prosecution of online hate, and boosting financial support for projects fighting antisemitism and far-right extremism.

“The horrible attack on the Jewish community in Halle showed again what the unleashing of hatred online can lead to,” Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht said at a news conference in Berlin when she introduced the bundle of measures alongside Germany’s interior and family ministers.

“We will fight far-right terrorism and antisemitism with all the power of the law,” Lambrecht added.

Germany is still reeling from the attempted attack on a synagogue by a 27-year-old German in the eastern city of Halle, who later killed two passers-by before being arrested. The man posted an antisemitic screed before the attack and broadcast the shooting live on a popular video game streaming site.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said the new proposals include forcing internet companies to report hate speech to police and extending requirements to delete illegal content to online gaming platforms.

German gun laws will also be tightened to “do everything to make sure weapons don’t get into the hands of extremists,” Seehofer said.

The government also plans to devote more police and intelligence officers to tackling far-right extremism and terrorism — so that eventually the authorities will have the same amount of staff and capacities as they have in their fight against Islamic extremism.

In addition, German Families Minister Franziska Giffey announced that pro-democracy civil groups would get additional funding of 115 million euros annually for the next four years in their fight against far-right extremism and antisemitism.

“It’s high time that action is being taken,” said Josef Schuster, the president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, the country’s EJC affiliate.


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