Posts Tagged ‘neo-Nazi’

German far-right terror group members detained in overnight raids

October 1, 2018

Germany’s attorney general has ordered the arrest of six men charged with forming a far-right terror group known as “Revolution Chemnitz.” The men are accused of planning attacks on migrants in eastern Germany.

Riot police (picture alliance / Thomas Frey/dpa)

Some 100 police officers raided several properties in the German states of Saxony and Bavaria overnight on Monday as part of an investigation into a far-right terror group called “Revolution Chemnitz,” named after the eastern German city that was the scene of recent far-right demonstrations following the killing of a German man, allegedly involving migrants.

The six men arrested, aged between 20 and 30, are suspected of forming a terrorist organization under the leadership of 31-year-old Christian K., who was arrested on September 14. According to Germany’s state prosecutors, the men had planned to attack “foreigners” and people who did not share their political views.

Investigators said the group had tried to acquire semi-automatic firearms, and on September 14 had taken part in a coordinated attack on foreigners in Chemnitz using glass bottles, weighted knuckle gloves, and an electroshock weapon. One man was injured during the attack.

Investigators described this as a “practise run” for a larger attack planned on October 3.

The prosecutors’ statement said the six men were all members of the “hooligan, skinhead, and neo-Nazi scene” in the Chemnitz area, and all considered themselves leading members of the far-right scene in Saxony.

Prosecutors believe the group’s aim was “the overthrow of the democratic rule of law” based on a right-wing extremist ideology.


Merkel ‘outraged’ by Nazi chants in far-right rally

September 10, 2018

German Chancellor Angela Merkel voiced anger Monday against Nazi chants by far-right demonstrators marching over the death of a German man following a fight with two Afghans.

Local police and prosecutors said the 22-year-old deceased had suffered acute heart failure after coming to blows with the suspects on a playground in the eastern town of Koethen late Saturday.

The far-right swiftly mobilised a demonstration on Sunday evening that drew 2,500 participants including 400 to 500 known extremists, authorities from Saxony-Anhalt state said.

The rally was billed as a mourning march, but groups of mostly white men were filmed chanting “national socialism, now, now now” — a reference to the Nazis’ declared ideology — according to footage circulating on social media.

© AFP | The far-right mobilised a demonstration on Sunday in the eastern town of Koethen that drew 2,500 participants, authorities from Saxony-Anhalt state said

“At the end of the day in Koethen, a video shows open Nazi chants — that must affect us and outrage us,” said Steffen Seibert, Merkel’s spokesman.

Saxony-Anhalt state’s interior minister Holger Stahlknecht said several investigations have been launched over incitement to hatred over speeches given during the rally.

Investigators are also examining chants shouted during the demonstration.

The far-right party AfD has announced a new rally for Monday night, although it said in its call for assembly that political speeches would not be made.

In a video posted online by Buzzfeed, a man the website identified as a member of the far-right scene, David Koeckert, was seen telling the crowd to loud applause that “we must defend ourselves in the race war against the German people, which is what happened here.”

“Do you want to continue to be bleating sheep or do you want to become wolves and shred them to pieces?” asked the man to cheers.

Authorities have said the death of the man was “not directly” linked to the injuries he suffered in the fight.

But fears were growing that the latest case could further inflame anti-migrant tensions, as it comes two weeks after the fatal stabbing of a 35-year-old man in the eastern city of Chemnitz that sparked xenophobic protests.

Two suspects — an Iraqi and a Syrian — have been arrested over the stabbing and a third man, also an Iraqi, is sought.

The Chemnitz protests have also led to a clash between Merkel and the head of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, who raised doubts on a video purportedly showing a “hunt on foreigners” by neo-Nazi mobs.

Merkel’s spokesman and the chancellor herself have repeatedly used the description in condemning the violent protests.

But spy chief Hans-Georg Maassen told the Bild daily that he had “no proof” that the video circulating online, which appeared to show immigrants being accosted and chased, was authentic.

Maassen, under pressure to show proof to back his claim, has submitted to the government a report, which is being “examined”, said both Seibert and the interior ministry.


Germany: Fears of ‘second Chemnitz’ as Afghans held over German man’s death

September 10, 2018

2,500 march in far-right demonstration Sunday after a local man dies after fight with two Afghans; doctors say death ‘not directly’ related to brawl

People with lighters are pictured after a mourning march in Koethen, eastern Germany, on September 9, 2018.
German officials pleaded for calm on September 9, 2018, after two Afghans were detained on suspicion of killing a German man in a fight, fuelling fears of fresh anti-foreigner unrest after racist violence shook the city of Chemnitz.
The two suspects were taken into custody after a 22-year-old man died in a dispute on a playground on September 8, 2018 in Koethen, like Chemnitz located in the former communist east.
Local police and prosecutors stressed that "the concrete circumstances of the event are not yet known" and that all lines of inquiry remained open.

People with lighters are pictured after a mourning march in Koethen, eastern Germany, on September 9, 2018. German officials pleaded for calm on September 9, 2018, after two Afghans were detained on suspicion of killing a German man in a fight, fuelling fears of fresh anti-foreigner unrest after racist violence shook the city of Chemnitz. The two suspects were taken into custody after a 22-year-old man died in a dispute on a playground on September 8, 2018 in Koethen, like Chemnitz located in the former communist east. Local police and prosecutors stressed that “the concrete circumstances of the event are not yet known” and that all lines of inquiry remained open. / AFP PHOTO / Odd ANDERSEN

KOETHENGermany (AFP) — Around 2,500 people marched in a far-right demonstration in eastern Germany Sunday after a man died following a fight with two Afghans, as officials pleaded for calm to avoid the anti-foreigner unrest that has shaken Chemnitz.

Local police and prosecutors said the 22-year-old victim had suffered acute heart failure after coming to blows with the Afghan suspects during a dispute on a playground in the town of Koethen late Saturday.

The German man’s death was “not directly” linked to the injuries suffered in the brawl, they said in a statement, and media reports said he died in hospital and that he had a pre-existing heart condition.

Prosecutors said one of the Afghan suspects, aged 18, stands accused of causing grievous bodily harm. The other, aged 20, faces charges of causing bodily harm with fatal consequences.

The incident was expected to inflame anti-migrant tensions, coming just two weeks after the fatal stabbing of a 35-year-old German man in the city of Chemnitz, allegedly by two asylum seekers.

“With emotions running high, we have to resist any attempt to turn Koethen into a second Chemnitz,” the state premier of Saxony-Anhalt, Reiner Haseloff, told DPA news agency.

Chemnitz, also located in Germany’s former Communist east, has been rocked by a series of far-right demonstrations that saw participants assault foreign-looking people and shout anti-immigration slurs while some flashed the illegal Nazi salute.

Immediately after news of the latest incident broke, right-wing groups called on social media for a “mourning march” in Koethen from 7:00 pm.

Police estimated the turnout at some 2,500 people, and reported no major disturbances. Many of the demonstrators waved the German flag and shouted “Resistance! Resistance!”

A counter-demo by far-left protesters at Koethen’s rail station drew 200 people, according to police.

‘Keep calm’

Mayor Bernd Hauschild, in a Facebook message, urged locals to shun the right-wing demo because he had “information that people prepared to use violence were planning to travel to Koethen in large numbers.”

Bild newspaper said around 100 federal police officers had been sent to Koethen to help keep the peace, after police were criticised for underestimating the scale of the Chemnitz demostrations.

According to local media the latest incident started when three Afghan men were arguing with a pregnant woman over who was the father of her unborn child.

Two German men then approached the group and the row escalated into a brawl.

The third Afghan was not arrested as he was not believed to have been involved in the fighting.

Local residents and politicians on Sunday placed flowers and candles at the scene.

State interior minister Holger Stahlknecht said on Twitter that he deeply regretted “the tragic death” and understood citizens’ concerns.

But he urged residents to “keep calm” and let justice run its course.


The recent unrest in Chemnitz in neighboring Saxony has reignited debate in Germany about Chancellor Angela Merkel’s 2015 decision to open the country’s borders at the height of Europe’s migrant crisis.

More than a million asylum seekers have arrived since then, deeply dividing Germans and fuelling the rise of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.

Merkel has strongly condemned the angry mobs in Chemnitz, saying there was no place for “hate in the streets.”

But interior minister Horst Seehofer of her CSU sister party, and one of Merkel’s fiercest critics, responded by blasting immigration as “the mother of all political problems.”

It also emerged at the weekend that a Jewish restaurant was attacked on the sidelines of the Chemnitz protests on August 27.

Uwe Dziuballa, owner of the ‘Schalom’ restaurant in Chemnitz, eastern Germany, describes to a journalist on September 8, 2018, how his restaurant was attacked by a group of masked men on August 27, 2018 in an apparent anti-Semitic attack. (AFP/John MacDougall)

The owner told AFP that around a dozen masked neo-Nazis shouted: “Jewish pig, get out of Germany!” and hurled rocks, bottles and a metal pipe at the Schalom restaurant.

The head of the New York-based World Jewish Congress slammed the “reprehensible” attack.

“It is inconceivable and outrageous that neo-Nazi elements or Nazi-inspired individuals in Germany continue to feel empowered to engage in violent acts against Jews and other minorities,” Ronald Lauder said.

Seehofer told public broadcaster ARD on Sunday that Germany faced three big challenges: growing right-wing radicalism, “worrying” anti-Semitism and violent crimes committed by foreigners.

“We aren’t blind to any of this,” Seehofer said.


Sweden seeks new government as nationalist influence grows

September 10, 2018

Sweden is headed for a period of uncertainty after legislative elections saw the far-right make gains, raising three questions: Who won? Who will govern? And with whom?

The prime minister is usually the leader of the party with the most votes, but Sweden’s fragmented political landscape after Sunday’s election makes it impossible to guess who will form the next government.

As expected, neither the centre-left nor the centre-right bloc obtained a majority, and the far-right Sweden Democrats solidified their position as the country’s third-biggest party, albeit with a lower score than they had expected.

There are few other alternatives to form a government: “They’ll need a lot of imagination,” daily Svenska Dagbladet wrote.

© TT News Agency/AFP | The far-right Sweden Democrats have solidified their position as the country’s third-biggest party, albeit with a lower score than they had expected

“However the dramatic bloc battle plays out, it looks like it will be difficult for Sweden to have a functioning government,” daily paper of reference Dagens Nyheter wrote in an editorial.

Social Democratic Prime Minister Stefan Lofven’s “red-green” left bloc enjoys a razor-thin one-seat lead over the centre-right opposition Alliance, with nearly 200,000 ballots from Swedes who voted abroad to be counted on Wednesday.

But the Social Democrats won 28.4 percent of votes, down 2.8 points from the 2014 elections, their worst score in a century.

“We are Sweden’s biggest party,” Lofven said late Sunday.

Acknowledging the parliamentary deadlock, he extended an invitation to the opposition.

“This election marks the death of bloc politics. We need a cross-bloc cooperation,” he told his party supporters.

But the four-party Alliance rejected his invite, calling on Lofven to step down and make way for them to build a government.

“This government has had its chance. It has to resign,” Alliance opposition leader Ulf Kristersson told his conservative Moderate party supporters.

– ‘Very uncertain situation’ –

Lofven is seeking a new four-year mandate but with whom could he govern? He has categorically ruled out any cooperation with the far-right.

He could try to build the same government he formed in 2014: a minority coalition with the Greens, that relies on the informal support in parliament of the ex-communist Left Party.

But it would then be under constant threat from the Sweden Democrats, ready to block any attempt to pass legislation and topple it at the first opportunity, such as the autumn budget bill.

Lofven could also extend an invitation to the Centre and Liberal parties to join the negotiating table.

“If the red-green bloc is bigger, the Centre and the Liberals hold the key and not Jimmie Akesson,” Mikael Gilliam, political science professor at the University of Gothenburg, told Swedish public radio.

With one major caveat: the Centre and Liberals are members of the Alliance, together with the Moderates and Christian Democrats.

Despite their differences, notably on immigration policy, the Alliance parties that ruled Sweden from 2006 to 2014 have agreed to form a government together.

But that is no easy task.

The Alliance would need the far-right’s support to obtain a majority in parliament, and would have to either make policy concessions in exchange for the Sweden Democrats’ support or offer key positions on parliamentary committees that draft legislation.

“Such a government would be dependent on the Sweden Democrats’ support and it wouldn’t come without a cost,” Lisa Pelling, chief analyst at progressive think-tank Arena Ide, told AFP.

To avoid that situation, Kristersson appears to favour some form of broad cross-bloc cooperation with the Social Democrats.

In the past four-year mandate, the two have signed 26 deals to pass legislation, notably on immigration, energy and the climate.

“This is a very uncertain situation. Only 30,000 votes separate the two blocs and 200,000 more votes from abroad are to be counted on Wednesday,” said David Ahlin, opinions chief at the market research company Ipsos.

“The most likely situation will be that the Alliance will form a coalition together and try to seek cross-bloc support,” Ahlin added.

After winning 17.6 percent of votes — up by nearly five percent since the previous election — Sweden Democrats leader Jimmie Akesson gave Kristersson an ultimatum.

“Who do you want to negotiate with, Stefan Lofven or Jimmie Akesson?” he asked at an election night party on Sunday.

“We are ready to take our responsibilities,” he insisted.



Sweden’s Election Cliffhanger — Parties to negotiate after close elections with far-right gains

September 10, 2018

Swedish Social Democratic premier Stefan Lofven has invited the “decent” opposition to cooperate for a new government. The far-right Sweden Democrats increased their share of the vote to 17 percent.

Prime Minister and Social Democratic party leader Stefan LofvenPrime Minister and Social Democratic party leader Stefan Lofven

With 99.8 percent of districts counted, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven’s left-leaning bloc emerged with only a slight lead in the general elections. Lofven’s Social Democrats, the Greens and the Left Party took 40.6 percent of the vote, while the opposition center-right Alliance won 40.3 percent.

Translated to seats in parliament, Lofven’s alliance are expected to have 144 seats, while the center-right Alliance would have 142 in the 349 seat parliament, both blocs well short of the 175 needed for a majority.

The prime minister’s party, with 28.1 percent of the vote, according to preliminary results, lost 13 seats from the previous elections in 2014 – their worst result in a century. Meanwhile, Lofven’s Green party partners also saw their support fall dangerously close to the 4 percent threshold for participation in the parliament.

Resisting calls to resign from the Moderates center-right alliance, who took a provisional 19.3 percent of the vote, Swedish Social Democratic Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said he would stay in his post for the next fortnight until the new parliament opens.

“The voters have made their choice, now it’s up to all of us decent parties to wait for the final result and then negotiate (and) cooperate to move Sweden forward in a responsible way,” Lofven said. He would “work calmly as prime minister with respect to the voters and Sweden’s electoral system.”

He called on the centrist Alliance to discuss a “cross-bloc cooperation.”

Europe Elects@EuropeElects

Sweden, election results (5957/6004 election districts counted):

S-S&D: 28.4%
M-EPP: 19.8%
SD-ECR: 17.6%
C-ALDE: 8.6%
V-LEFT: 7.9%
KD-EPP: 6.4%
L-ALDE: 5.5%
MP-G/EFA: 4.3%

Swedish PM invites ‘decent parties’ to talk after deadlock With just 30,000 votes separating the two groups, the 300,000 votes from Swedes living abroad and those who voted late will be key. They will only be reported on Wednesday.

Anti-immigration party makes gains

The far-right Sweden Democrats who rose from the white supremacist and neo-Nazi fringe, saw their share of the vote rise from 12.9 percent in 2014 to 17.6 percent in Sunday’s poll. They had been expressing hopes of a result far higher, but it still represents the largest gain by any party in the Riksdag.

If confirmed, the result translates to 63 parliamentary seats for the Sweden Democrats, up from 49 seats in 2014. Party chief Jimmie Akesson told members: “We will gain huge influence over what happens in Sweden during the coming weeks, months and years.”

Jimmie Akesson, leader of the Sweden DemocratsJimmie Akesson, leader of the Sweden Democrats

For his part, Lofven expressed disappointment: “I’m of course disappointed that a party (the Sweden Democrats) with roots in Nazism can win so much ground in our time.”

Akesson and his party had made much of its opposition to Sweden’s immigration policy which hsaw 163,000 asylum seekers arrive in the country in 2015. While the number of asylum seekers has dropped since, concerns over pressure on the welfare system, a shortage of doctors and teachers and a rise in some kinds of crime have been main election issues.

Ulf Kristersson, leader of the Moderates which heads the center AllianceUlf Kristersson, leader of the Moderates which heads the center Alliance

Center-right rejects far-right

Center-right Alliance leader Ulf Kristersson called on Lofven to resign, but pushed back against any idea of an alliance with the far-right.

“We have been completely clear during the whole election,” Kristersson said of his four-party grouping. “The Alliance will not govern or discuss how to form a government with the Sweden Democrats.”

The speaker of parliament is expected to consult party leaders and ask the one most likely to succeed to then form a government.

jm/kl (Reuters, AFP)

Warrant leaked on killing that sparked Germany mob attacks, Neo-Nazi violence

August 29, 2018

Police in eastern Germany came under fire Wednesday after far-right groups posted online the leaked arrest warrant for a fatal stabbing that has sparked racist mob violence.

“It’s unacceptable that some police officers think they can leak things like this even though they know they’re committing an offence,” said Saxony state’s deputy premier Martin Dulig, calling the release a “scandal”.

Saxony in Germany’s ex-communist east has again become a hotspot for xenophobia after a knife killing early Sunday in the city of Chemnitz led to protests that degenerated into rightwing extremists hunting down immigrants in the streets.

© AFP/File | A fatal stabbing has sparked racist mob violence in the city of Chemnitz in which rightwing extremists have hunted down immigrants in the streets

Police on Monday arrested a Syrian and an Iraqi man suspected of killing a 35-year-old German man with multiple stabbings in the late-night altercation.

Authorities have not yet identified the victim or suspects in keeping with the German convention of protecting the identities of people involved in judicial proceedings.

However, the full arrest warrant of one of the suspects found its way into the hands of rightwing groups who then posted it online, where it was widely shared, spelling out the full names of the suspects, victim, eye-witnesses and the judge.

State premier Michael Kretschmer, who has defended the police force against charges of being ill-prepared to deal with the far-right rallies, promised that “we will clarify the matter,” speaking to regional public broadcaster MDR.

Image may contain: cloud and outdoor

Saxony has been a stronghold of far-right parties and groups that bitterly oppose Chancellor Angela Merkel for her 2015 decision to keep open German borders to a mass influx of migrants and refugees.

Police in the state have also come under fire for the alleged sympathies of some officers with the far-right and the anti-Islam movement PEGIDA.

Saxony police last week apologised for obstructing a TV crew at a rightwing anti-Merkel rally at the instigation of a nationalist protester who turned out to be an off-duty police employee.

Dulig said that “it has got to be clear that certain things will no longer be tolerated in the police force”.

The latest controversy comes as the mood remains highly charged following what have been labelled as “pogrom-like” scenes in Chemnitz on Sunday in which extremists chased and beat immigrants from Afghanistan, Syria and Bulgaria.

On Monday night some 7,000 protesters, most of them football hooligans and rightwing nationalists, again took to the city’s streets and clashed with leftist anti-fascist protesters, leaving some 20 people injured.

Police said they were investigating 10 incidents of protesters making the illegal Hitler salute.



(No it was a real stabbing)

German state official: Fake news fueled Chemnitz Neo-Nazi riots

August 29, 2018

Officials in Chemnitz said that fake news items spread on social media fueled the riots. There are two suspects in custody and police are still looking for at least ten men who were seen making the illegal Nazi salute.

Deutschland Demonstration der rechten Szene in Chemnitz (Imago/Michael Trammer)

German officials have blamed “fake news” on social media for helping fuel right-wing violence in the eastern German city of Chemnitz over the past two days.

“We have to acknowledge that mobilization on the internet was stronger than in the past,” said Michael Kretschmer, state premier of Saxony, where the violence took place.

The death of a 35-year-old German man in the early hours of Sunday – allegedly at the hands of two asylum seekers from Iraq and Syria – has sparked two days of protests that were partially fueled by the false claim the victim had intervened to protect a woman. Also, internet users were exposed to fake reports that another man had been killed.

© AFP | Protests flared for the second day in the eastern German city of Chemnitz following the death of a 35-year-old German national

The claim had been disseminated mainly by right-wing groups and the organizer of the rally Pro Chemnitz on social media but was later declared by police to be false.

Kretschmer said the subsequent anger “was based on xenophobic comments, false information and conspiracy theories … it was based on fake news.”

Read more: Chemnitz fears for reputation after demonstrators duel

The editor-in-chief of the Chemnitz daily  “Freie Presse”, Torsten Kleditzsch, told DW that he and his colleagues tried to fight the fake news stories circulated online.

“In this case, we could not keep a lid on it,” he said. “Even good journalism is tested to the limit when its attempts to correct a story that is already out there.”

Kleditzsch also says that fact-checking brings risks of its own. “When you are disputing a rumor with facts, you are also automatically broadcasting the rumor,” he said. “And, at the end, it’s not the denial that sticks, it’s the rumor.”

Police slammed for struggling to contain unrest

Police said the 35-year-old man had been stabbed during an altercation between two groups of men, including the suspects. The two suspects have since been remanded in custody and are under investigation for manslaughter.

The rally provoked by the killing included some 6,000 right-wing protesters and around 1,000 counter-protesters. In a statement, police said that two police officers, nine far-right protesters and nine counter-protesters were injured in the clashes.

Saxony’s Interior Minister Roland Wöller said that right-wing groups had colluded with members of football hooligan groups to mobilize people from across Germany to travel to Chemnitz for the anti-immigrant demonstration.

Demonstrators in Chemnitz (picture-alliance/AP Photo/J. Meyer)Right-wing protesters vastly outnumbered both the police and counter-protesters

Police in Saxony came under fire on Tuesday for failing to contain the rival protests. Late Monday, a police spokesman admitted that the police deployment to Chemnitz – which included 591 police officers – had not been large enough to separate the camps.

The head of the police union GdP, Oliver Malchow, told German newspaper Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung that police staff cuts in recent years were responsible for the lack of control over right-wing violence.

“The state has failed when is comes to domestic security because it massively reduced staff numbers,” Malchow told the newspaper, adding that 20,000 new positions were required to remedy the situation.

Image may contain: 21 people, crowd

Nazi salute?

Malchow pointed to a growing trend of vigilantism in Germany, and said: “When the state is perceived as no longer able to protect citizens, citizens take the law into their own hands and start to rely on self-defense militias and vigilantism.”

Read more: From the stands to the streets: What does Chemnitz violence have to do with football?

Forbidden salute seen

The protests on Sunday and Monday included attacks on foreigners by right-wing extremists. German Chancellor Angela Merkel denounced the violence as “mob-like.”

“We have video footage showing that there were hunts, that there was mob-like behavior, that there was hate on the streets, and that is at odds with the rule of law in our country,” Merkel said.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the stabbing incident had been “abused to take xenophobia and violence onto the streets.” He called for those responsible to be tracked down.

Josef Schuster, the president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said that a shocking number of people apparently felt no inhibitions on “hunting down certain groups and calling for vigilante justice.”

Incidents of this kind had become so common in Saxony, “that we cannot speak of an isolated case,” Schuster told the German press agency dpa.

Markus Frohnmaier of the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) drew criticism for a tweet apparently calling on people to take the law into their own hands.

Markus Frohnmaier@Frohnmaier_AfD

Wenn der Staat die Bürger nicht mehr schützen kann, gehen die Menschen auf die Straße und schützen sich selber. Ganz einfach! Heute ist es Bürgerpflicht, die todbringendendie “Messermigration” zu stoppen!
Es hätte deinen Vater, Sohn oder Bruder treffen können!

“If the state is no longer able to protect its citizens, people go onto the street and protect themselves. It’s quite simple,” he said. “It’s a citizen’s duty today to stop death-dealing ‘knife migration.’ It could have been your father, son or brother,” Frohnmaier added.

Prosecutors also said that 10 people were under investigation for giving the illegal Nazi salute during the street protests, based on police film taken during the Monday protests.

All symbols, images, slogans, uniforms, songs and salutes that glorify the 1933-45 Nazi regime are banned in Germany, including the extended right arm salute associated with the personality cult surrounding Adolf Hitler.

av/bw (dpa, AFP)

Germany reels as far-right ‘mobs’ go on rampage

August 28, 2018

Germany was reeling Tuesday as xenophobia reared its head with far-right protests degenerating into attacks against foreign-looking people, adding fuel to an already explosive debate over migrants.

After Sunday’s fatal stabbing of a German man, 35, allegedly by a Syrian and an Iraqi, thousands of protesters descended on the streets of Chemnitz for two straight days, some bearing insignia of the far-right AfD and neo-Nazi NPD parties.

© AFP | Protests flared for the second day in the eastern German city of Chemnitz following the death of a 35-year-old German national

Six people were injured on Monday as pyrotechnics and other objects were hurled by the far-right camp as well as anti-fascist counter-protesters in the east German city.

Police also reported assaults by extremists against at least three foreigners on Sunday, while investigations were opened in 10 cases of the protesters performing the Hitler salute.

“Of course history is not repeating itself, but that a far-right mob is on a rampage in the middle of Germany and the authorities are overwhelmed, is reminiscent of the situation during the Weimar Republic,” noted Spiegel Online.

The Weimar years were marked by the formation of paramilitary groups, such as the Sturmabteilung or SA, which eventually helped the Nazis to power.

Josef Schuster, who chairs the Central Council of Jews in Germany, also voiced his alarm, saying it is “now the responsibility of citizens to counter the far-right mob”.

“It must never be accepted in Germany again for people to be attacked because of their appearances or their backgrounds.”

Anetta Kahane of the anti-racism Amadeu Antonio Foundation told rolling news channel NTV that people have the right to demonstrate.

But he added: “What happened in Chemnitz went beyond that — it was incitement to hatred and the propagation of pogrom sentiment.”

Noting that chatter among far-right sympathisers online is “extremely brutal, as calls are made blatantly for murder and killings”, Kahane said authorities need to crack down.

– ‘Nothing more dangerous’ –

Saxony state, where Chemnitz is located and which is the birthplace of the Islamophobic PEGIDA street movement, has repeatedly come under intense scrutiny as it is a hotbed for hate crimes.

Misgivings run deep in the state against the arrival since 2015 of more than a million asylum seekers, many from war-torn Syria and Iraq.

Railing against the newcomers, the far-right AfD party has made significant gains in the state and is poised to become the second biggest party in Saxony’s regional elections next year.

With a new demonstration expected from 1300 GMT outside the Saxony state parliament in Dresden, criticism grew louder against the authorities’ failure to keep the far-right in check.

“The state can never allow our streets to be overrun by far-right mobs,” said Bild daily, adding that at the same time, Berlin needs to promptly deport criminal foreigners.

“For too long, nothing has been done. That’s why confidence in the state is buckling. That’s why racists like in Chemnitz think they can do what they want. Nothing can be more dangerous for our country.”

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung noted that “where such hunting down of foreigners is possible, the rule of law has abdicated,” while Die Welt daily warned that “the rule of law and police now stand before a test”.

“There cannot be a zone of violence, there is no such thing as partial security,” said Welt.

Amid the alarm, criticism grew against Interior Minister Horst Seehofer for not making a public statement on the violence.

“Could be that some of his voters in Bavaria are secretly pleased that people are running through Chemnitz shouting ‘foreigners out’. But that can’t mean that the interior minister and leader of the CSU party ducks under cowardly,” said Spiegel.

“It is time for Seehofer to take a stand.”



Sweden’s far right courts immigrant voters in bid to make historic gains

August 26, 2018

The party from the neo-Nazi fringe once railed against ‘the foreign threat’. Now, just weeks from polling day, the Sweden Democrats think they can win their support

At the Malmedalen political festival in Rosengård, the Sweden Democrats tent was far and away the busiest. Inside, Jörgen Grubb was taking his message of restrictive immigration, draconian law and order, and Swedish cultural nationalism to a part of Malmö where close to 90% of people have a foreign background. And it was going surprisingly well.

When a woman in a hijab raised Grubb’s party’s plans to ban full face veils, he clarified quickly that “what you have on you there, that’s absolutely OK”.

Image result for full face veils, photos

“It’s this,” said Grubb, waving two fingers in front of his eyes to indicate the face-veil, or niqab. “I think it’s uncomfortable for people.” The woman nodded in agreement. “You do have to adapt to western society,” she said. “And you can’t work as a nursery school teacher if the children can’t see your face.”

Grubb, the fast-talking Malmö chair of the surging populist SwedenDemocrats party, drew crowds of local youths looking to test their wits against him and his colleague, Iranian-born councillor Nima Gholam Ali Pour. But the tent also attracted those who were genuinely curious about the party before next month’s election, at which the far-right force is expected to record its strongest performance to date.

A party whose first leader came from the neo-Nazi Nordic Realm party, whose co-founders included a veteran of the Waffen SS and which, as recently as 2006, was a fringe far-right group sharing its torch logo with the UK’s National Front, has, in little more than a decade, brought itself to the verge of becoming Sweden’s biggest party.

Mattias Karlsson, the party’s parliamentary head and chief ideologue, says that immigrants are one of two groups his party is working hardest to attract. “Our two main target groups are immigrants and women,” he told the Observer. “We feel we still have a great potential to grow in those groups.”

The most recent opinion survey from the government agency Statistics Sweden suggests that the strategy could be paying off: astonishing for a party whose leader, Jimmie Åkesson, once described the growing number of Muslims in Sweden as “our greatest foreign threat since the second world war”.

In May 2014, in the run-up to the last general election, the Sweden Democrats had the support of 2% of foreign-born citizens. In May this year, it was 12%. “A lot of the crime is happening in the suburbs where a lot of foreign-born people live,” Karlsson said. “It’s their cars that are being burned. It’s their kids’ schools that are descending into chaos.”

Jörgen Grubb, chairman of the Sweden Democrats in Malmö.
 Jörgen Grubb, chairman of the Sweden Democrats in Malmö. Photograph: Richard Orange

This portrayal is deemed excessively negative by many Swedes, including those who live in Rosengård, where smiling families and well maintained parks and playgrounds tell a very different story.

But the party’s message is hitting home and, almost whatever happens in the remaining two weeks of the campaign, the Sweden Democrats will be seen as the winner.

A recent poll by the Sifo research company had the party leapfrogging the centre-right Moderates to become Sweden’s second-biggest party with 19.5% of the vote. Even if the figure falls several points short of this, the party’s seats will make it near impossible to form a government in Sweden without at least its passive support, or some sort of deal between the centre-left and centre-right parties. And it could do better still. A YouGov poll in June had the party ahead of the Social Democrats as well, on 25.7%.

Much of this is due to the leader, Åkesson, who, with his neatly parted hair and preppy uniform of jacket and chinos, has perfected the art of framing his message in a wry, reasoning tone that appeals to Swedes.

But it is also because of Karlsson’s doctrine of cultural nationalism, according to which foreigners who learn Sweden’s language and accept its culture are welcome, and to the party’s “zero-tolerance” policy against members who make openly racist or antisemitic statements.

When, last week, a municipal election candidate was found to have posted a white nationalist song online with the refrain “Swedes are white and our country is ours”, Karlsson told the press that the candidate would probably be expelled. The Hungarian-born Sweden Democrat MP Anna Hagwall was sacked two years ago for a perceived antisemitic attack against the Bonnier family, newspaper owners with a Jewish background.

“We are really firm and non-compromising about these issues,” Karlsson said. “Any sign of xenophobia and racism, we immediately expel those representatives.”

But Jonathan Leman, a researcher at the anti-extremism magazine Expo, warns that the party’s disavowal of xenophobia does not go too deep. The party is campaigning on policies that include a ban on the niqab, restriction of political asylum to Danes, Finns and Norwegians, and no work permits for all but the most essential foreign workers. “That’s the official line,” he said. “However the people who are active in the Sweden Democrats have a mindset where immigrants and minorities are at the centre of everything that’s wrong in society. That’s why we keep on seeing these scandals in the news about SD politicians saying things like ‘Sweden is a place where whites belong and non-whites don’t.’”

Lars Adaktusson from the Swedish Christian Democrats, gives a speech during the launch of the Malmedalen, political festival in Malmö.
 Lars Adaktusson from the Swedish Christian Democrats gives a speech during the launch of the Malmedalen political festival in Malmö. Photograph: Johan Nilsson/TT NEWS AGENCY

At the party’s election tent in the university town of Lund, it is hard to see any remnants of the party’s far-right past. A silver crucifix over her floral blouse, Julia Kronlid, the party’s national vice chair, said that she had worked hard to appeal to female voters, raising issues such as the rising incidence of rape, “honour” culture, low pay for nurses, and foreign aid. “We actually want to raise the amount that we send abroad in overseas aid so that people can see that we are not evil people who don’t care about people in a difficult situation,” she said.

Again, it is having an impact. According to Statistics Sweden, the party has doubled its support among women from 5% at the last election to nearly 10% in May.

Kronlid claimed that she had never felt it difficult to be a woman in the party, a sentiment echoed by Bo Broman, the party’s first openly gay parliamentary candidate. “I’ve never heard anything homophobic in the party,” said Broman, who has been working as its finance chief.

But, as much as the party has succeeded in partially detoxifying its image, the mask sometimes slips. Back at the Malmedalen festival, Grubb was taunted by a local man about whether he counted as “Swedish” under the party’s ideology of cultural nationalism, even if he did not unconditionally love or respect the country.

“Listen,” Grubb said. “You can define yourself. First you must respect the country and its values and work to do your best in society. Then, if you are a Swedish citizen, you can be Swedish. Full stop.”

As the young man’s friends massed around Grubb, jeering, he snapped: “It’s not Swedish culture to crowd someone in like this. In Sweden we are calmer. That is not Swedish culture.”

Neo-Nazi found guilty of killing 10 people in Germany, receives life sentence

July 11, 2018

A Munich court has found the main defendant in a high-profile neo-Nazi trial guilty of murder over the killing of 10 people — most of them migrants — gunned down between 2000 and 2007 in a case that shocked Germany.

Judges on Wednesday sentenced Beate Zschaepe to life in prison.

The 43-year-old was arrested in 2011, shortly after her two accomplices were found dead in an apparent murder-suicide. Together with the men, Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Boehnhardt, she had formed the National Socialist Underground, which pursued an ideology of white racial supremacy by targeting migrants, mostly of Turkish origin.

Authorities for years failed to attribute the killings and two bomb attacks to a far-right group, instead investigating nonexistent gangland ties of the victims.