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23 Feb, 2020 15:02

Germans say far-right MORE DANGEROUS than Islamists, but is Merkel’s shaky govt there to take on growing threat?

Germans say far-right MORE DANGEROUS than Islamists, but is Merkel’s shaky govt there to take on growing threat?

Far-right terrorism is more of a danger than Islamism in the eyes of nearly a half of Germans, while almost the same number blamed the AfD party for fueling extremism – and authorities for sitting idly as the threat grows.

Days after the deadly shooting spree in Hanau, where a hate-motivated gunman killed ten people before taking his own life, Bild am Sonntag newspaper came up with an eye-catching survey, carried out by pollster, Kantar, revealing Germans’ attitudes toward extremism.

It found that 49 percent of Germans consider far-right extremists to be the greatest terrorist threat in the country, whereas only 27 percent of their compatriots said they feel the same danger from Islamist fundamentalists. 

Remarkably, 60 percent opined that the right-wing, anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) shares responsibility for attacks like the one in Hanau, despite the party leaders trying their best to publicly denounce the shooting spree and disavow themselves from the lone-wolf gunman. 

The aforementioned result fits well into the mainstream view as many voices on the left – including top brass from the Social Democrats, Greens and Die Linke – rushed to bash AfD, with demands heard for the party to be put on a watch list and its members to be surveilled by Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, the BfV. 

What is equally noteworthy is that 46 percent of those questioned believed that the German security agencies pay too little attention to the danger posed by the far-right. 

The agencies in question, be it the BfV or the interior ministry – led by Angela Merkel’s longtime ally Horst Seehofer – have been accused of long reflecting on the growing threat of right-wing terrorism and the spike in xenophobic attacks on German soil. 

And the relentless feedback from the public signals that people prefer action over words, however convincing they may be. 

One cannot say, however, that the ruling coalition – sent into a tailspin by the recent abdication of Merkel’s designated successor and the recent scandal in Thuringia, where her CDU party sided with AfD – is doing nothing. Seehofer himself announced last December that police and the BfV will get 300 new staff members each to “better counter” the increasing danger posed by right-wing extremists. 

Also on rt.com Far-right terrorists pose ‘real threat in Germany,’ just like Islamists – interior minister

They were given sweeping powers to investigate hate crimes and track extremists elsewhere, including in the military and security services.

But a little more than two months later, things seemed unchanged, as Focus magazine revealed. BKA, the federal criminal police agency, failed to tell how many officers are exclusively dealing with the far-right, saying that their personnel are “not focusing on one task only.” 

Albeit necessary and long overdue, the measures’ timing might signal that the government is losing a race against time. They came as a post-factum response to a lone-wolf attack on a synagogue in the eastern town of Halle in October 2019, in which two bystanders were killed, and after Walter Luebcke, a “pro-migrant” member of the CDU, was shot in the head at his home a few months prior. 

Also on rt.com German politicians fearful as US-linked neo-Nazi group puts Green MPs on top of ‘kill list’

The political murder highlighted a disturbing phenomenon which rarely comes into the mainstream. As the BfV warned in a 2018 report, mass immigration of refugees into Germany since 2015 paved the way for “the risk that violent rightwing extremists radicalize through the emotional debate and commit acts of violence.”  

Since 2015, Merkel’s center-right coalition has long been blamed for its decision to let over a million refugees cross Germany’s borders and settle in the country. The chancellor’s migration policy badly damaged her party’s standing and led to bitter divides inside the coalition. 

Now, with politicians stuck bickering and people polarized, the rise of far-right extremism continues, pushing Germany toward uncharted waters.

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