Eastern Germany hit by further far-right violence

Published 25.03.2019 00:03

German police intervened in a far-right rock concert in the eastern state of Saxony where members of the crowd threw cups of beer at police and journalists and sprayed them with a fire extinguisher and began chanting a Nazi-era victory slogan. Six people were investigated for damage to property, sedition, verbal abuse and violations of weapons law, police said.

An investigation was launched over reports of banned symbols and shouts of "Sieg Heil" (Hail Victory), a phrase commonly used by the Nazis. According to the police, about 500 people attended the right-wing concert and meeting in the town of Ostritz on Saturday evening. There was also a parallel Ostritz Peace Festival against right-wing extremism, attended by more than 2,000 people. Regarding the growth of far-right extremism, the risk of becoming a victim of hate crime is 10 times higher for immigrants residing in cities in eastern Germany, according to a study. The report, released by the Leibniz Center for European Economic Research, a nonprofit institute based in Mannheim, found that the amount of experience local people share with immigrants is an important factor in understanding growing xenophobia and hate crimes in the country. The number of attacks is "higher in regions with a previously low proportion of foreigners than in regions with an already high proportion of foreigners," said Horst Entorf and Martin Lange, as reported by the Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa) news agency, suggesting politicians work to increase the awareness of local Germans in regions with limited migration experience to prevent hate crimes.

In recent years, increasingly hostile attitudes toward immigrants and the Muslim community have been reported. In August 2018, massive far-right rallies rocked the city of Chemnitz, in eastern Germany, where skinheads hounded migrants and performed the illegal Hitler salute. After the violence in Chemnitz, German police detained six men suspected of forming a far-right militant organization that assaulted foreigners in Chemnitz and had also planned attacks on politicians. The men are alleged to have formed a group calling itself Revolution Chemnitz. The arrests once again cast an uncomfortable spotlight on the growing problem of far-right terrorism in Chemnitz, which is a stronghold of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.

Since 2015, the eastern city of Dresden, the state capital of Saxony, has been home to the anti-Islam group Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West. Known by its German acronym PEGIDA, the group has become a magnet for people holding far-right and anti-immigrant views. Far-right crimes have significantly increased in Dresden, potentially triggered by neo-Nazi propaganda and right-wing populist movements that have exploited the refugee crisis and fears of Islam.

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