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Germany underestimated far-right terror for 'too long

Hnad grenade with flag of Germany
The threat of far-right terror in Germany has not been taken seriously, the head of Germany’s parliament told lawmakers in the wake of the Hanau attacks. Wolfgang Schäuble said the violence did not occur in a vacuum.

Germany must admit that it underestimated the threat of far-right terror for too long, the president of the Bundestag told lawmakers on Thursday.

The country must do more to smash far-right networks, while also addressing the problem of Islamophobia in society, Wolfgang Schäuble told Germany’s lower legislature.

Schäuble, addressing a parliamentary debate on the Hanau attacks, called for “sincerity from the state, which must admit to having underestimated the extreme right-wing danger for too long.”

The decisive answer to this must be to uncover radical networks with all constitutional means and to smash right-wing extremist associations,” said Schäuble, adding that the state must “finally get better at consistently enforcing the law”.

DW’s Michaela Küfner followed proceedings in the Bundestag and said that this was “the moment it was recognized that the [far-right] threat had, in teh past, been a lot larger than was publicly debated.”

The perpetrator of the Hanau attack killed nine people with foreign roots at both a cafe and a shisha bar in the city. Authorities judged the murders to have been racially-motivated.

Schäuble said that such crimes “do not happen in a vacuum” but in a “poisoned social climate in which resentment towards ‘otherness’ — and the most absurd conspiracy theories — are stoked.”

Minorities had been demonized to such an extent, Schäuble said, that hate campaigns — and even murder — were accompanied by “perverse applause on social networks.”

He also addressed the topic of Islamophobia. “Nothing justifies belittling, denigrating, persecuting, attacking people because of their origin or belief,” said Schäuble, while adding that people’s concern about immigration and social change needed to be taken seriously.

Solidaritätsbekundung nach Schießerei in Hanau: Frank-Walter Steinmeier (Getty Images/AFP/O. Andersen)

VIGILS ACROSS GERMANY AFTER HANAU SHOOTING

German president joins mourners

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier (right) and his wife Elke Büdenbender, along with Hesse State Premier Volker Bouffier, laid wreaths near one the crime scenes in Hanau.

Hanau | Vigil (Getty Images/AFP/P. Hertzog)

VIGILS ACROSS GERMANY AFTER HANAU SHOOTING

Vigil in Hanau

People in Hanau hold up photos of some of the victims of the shooting. Tobias R. is believed to have shot dead nine people, many of non-German background, after publishing a racist “manifesto” on the internet

Berlin | Solidaritätsbekundung nach Schießerei in Hanau (DW/F. Hoffmann)

VIGILS ACROSS GERMANY AFTER HANAU SHOOTING

Mourning at the Brandenburg Gate

Hundreds of people gathered at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin to light candles for the victims of the Hanau attack.

Berlinale 2020 (AFP/T. Schwarz)

VIGILS ACROSS GERMANY AFTER HANAU SHOOTING

Berlin Film Festival mourns

Berlinale guests observed a minute’s silence at the opening gala on Thursday evening.

Stuttgart | (picture-alliance/dpa/S. Gollnow)

VIGILS ACROSS GERMANY AFTER HANAU SHOOTING

Germany shows solidarity

People in the southern German city of Stuttgart hold up anti-racism placards, reading “Racism is no alternative” and “Hate is not an opinion.” Many believe that the taboo against racism in Germany’s political debate has softened in recent years, thanks to the rise of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD).

Munich | Hanau (picture-alliance/dpa/P. Kneffel)

VIGILS ACROSS GERMANY AFTER HANAU SHOOTING

Mourning in Munich

A man wears a Turkish flag at the vigil in Munich. Five of the victims of the Hanau attack were of Turkish origin.

Hamburg | Hanau (Imago Images/J. Große)

VIGILS ACROSS GERMANY AFTER HANAU SHOOTING

‘Defending solidarity’

People in central Hamburg hold up a banner reading “defending solidarity”.

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The killing spree in Hanau — near the city of Frankfurt — ended when the 43-year-old German gunman returned home, killing his mother before turning the pistol on himself. Thousands joined protests against far-right violence in the wake of the attacks, with many accusing the far-right Alternative for Germany(AfD), which holds 91 of 709 seats in Germany’s lower house, of having fueled resentment.

Social Democrat lawmaker Aydan Özoguz told DW that the session had been important to show solidarity with the victims.

“It seemed to many people… that when you attack a Muslim, or when you attack a Jew, then it’s only against that group,” said Özoguz. “What was really quite clearly said today here from every party — almost, except for the AfD — is that it is an attack against democracy, it is an attack against the whole of society and we have to stand together.”

During an emotional debate session, the AfD rejected any blame for the attack, claiming that the failure of mainstream parties had led to rising extremism.

A memorial service for the victims was held on Wednesday, attended by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Source.dw.com

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