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BERLIN – The number of right-wing extremist crimes committed in Germany rose sharply to a two-decade high in 2020, the Interior Ministry announced on Tuesday.
Such crimes accounted for 23,064 crimes [in 2020]. That is more than half … of all politically motivated crimes, ”said Interior Minister Horst Seehofer when he presented the latest crime statistics at a press conference in Berlin.
“This is the highest level since records began in 2001,” added Seehofer, noting that the number of violent hate crimes – including 11 murders and 13 attempted murder – rose by 18.8 percent to a total of 3,365 crimes.
The press conference took place hours after German authorities announced that they had arrested a person believed to be behind a series of threatening letters sent to media and political figures. The letters were signed “NSU 2.0” referring to the National Socialist Underground, a notorious Nazi terrorist group that killed at least 10 people in the 2000s.
Seehofer also referred on Tuesday to the religiously motivated murder of a homosexual man in Dresden, a racist terrorist attack in Hanau that killed eleven people in February last year, and the murder of Walter Lübcke, a politician who spoke out in favor of refugees would have.
“After the murder of Walter Lübcke and the attack on the synagogue in Halle, Hanau was the third right-wing terrorist attack in just a few months,” said the minister, adding, “Right-wing extremism is the greatest threat to security in our country.”
Seehofer highlighted an increase in anti-Semitic crimes of 15.7 percent, which, given our history, is “not only worrying but also deeply shameful”.
Far-right opposition party Alternative für Deutschland has long argued that the main source of anti-Semitism in Germany is immigrant communities from predominantly Arab countries, but Seehofer rejected such a position, which the data does not support.
“Almost all anti-Semitic crimes were motivated by right-wing extremism. This is controversial at times, but it is clear, ”he said.
In response to the statistics, Josef Schuster, Chairman of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said: “The latest figures on acts of violence and other crimes committed by extremists, as well as anti-Semitic crimes, are absolutely alarming and an indictment against Germany.”
“Although Germany was less affected by the pandemic and responded with less strict restrictions than other European countries, the pandemic appears to have led to a new form of extremism,” added Schuster, referring to a worrying new alliance between extremists and lockdown. Critics in the country.
Seehofer also admitted that close relationships between pandemic deniers and right-wing extremists are another problem exposed in recent crime statistics.
“It is problematic for security agencies to form new coalitions between ordinary protesters and supporters of conspiracy ideologies, anti-Vaxxers … and extremists,” he said, adding that around 3,500 crimes were attributed to such groups in 2020, including 500 acts of violence.
Seehofer also condemned 260 reported crimes against journalists, 112 of which were committed during anti-lockdown demonstrations and almost half of which were violent.
“I strongly condemn these acts,” he said.