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April 13, 2020 11:54 am

Concern Grows in Germany Over Antisemitic Propaganda Tied to Coronavirus Pandemic

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Demonstrators take part in a neo-Nazi NPD party rally in Dresden, Germany. Photo: Reuters / Matthias Rietsche.

A prominent psychologist in Berlin who deals with extremist groups has expressed fear that the coronavirus pandemic will encourage a further wave of antisemitism in Germany.

“An attempt is being made to spread the image of an enemy that people are already familiar with,” psychologist Ahmad Mansour told the Tagesschau news outlet over the weekend, when asked about a rash of antisemitic images associating Jews with the virus.

Mansour — an Israeli Arab and former Islamist who now works on counter-extremism programs in the German Muslim community — observed that the “images are very popular and widespread, online and offline.”

One image being shared by antisemitic agitators depicts crudely-stereotyped Jews smuggling the virus into a city in a Trojan Horse, along with an accompanying text railing against the “devious Jewish Orthodox Freemason sect, aka Zionists.”

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Mansour warned that antisemitic messages increasingly urged violence against Jews.

“I don’t just see conspiracy theories,” he said. “I see incitement, calls for injuries to Jews.”

German government officials monitoring extremist activity quoted in the same article concurred that the danger was growing.

“We are observing that there are attempts to exploit the pandemic through propaganda, particularly with the spreading of conspiracy theories and disinformation,” Thomas Haldenwang — president of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution — said. The office, whose role is to guard against any resurgence of Nazi ideology, said that neo-Nazi groups in Germany were actively promoting the canard that the coronavirus pandemic was a “Jewish plot.”

The Hungarian-Jewish financier George Soros has featured prominently in the new round of coronavirus propaganda, the constitution protection office noted.

“The person of Soros in particular is used by right-wing extremists as a code to link criticism of elites with the allegation of a supposed Jewish world conspiracy,” it said.

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