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May 27, 2020 1:24 pm

German Interior Minister Highlights Far-Right Threat as Antisemitic Crimes Reach Record Levels

avatar by Ben Cohen

Supporters of Germany’s far-right AfD Party gather for a demonstration in the city of Erfurt, March 3, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Hannibal Hanschke.

Germany’s interior minister on Wednesday expressed disquiet over the record rise in antisemitic crimes in his country in 2019, linking them to a resurgent far right whose actions were cause for “great concern.”

“The largest threat, as in the past, is the threat from the right,” Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said on Wednesday. “Extreme-right politically-motivated cases make up more than half of all of such recorded crimes — it is an order of magnitude that causes us concern, great concern.”

Amid a general increase in politically-motivated crimes in Germany last year, more than 2,000 antisemitic crimes were recorded — an increase of nearly 14 percent, and the largest tally since the country began monitoring hate crimes.

Responding to Seehoffer’s comments, the Central Council of Jews in Germany pointed out that if the number of unreported antisemitic incidents and those incidents below the threshold of criminal liability were taken into account, the picture would be “even gloomier.”

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Josef Schuster, the Council’s president, said in a statement that the attack by a neo-Nazi gunman on a synagogue in the city of Halle on Yom Kippur last October had been a “signal.”

“Antisemitism has become commonplace for Jews in Germany,” Schuster observed. “Especially on the internet, unrestrained hatred is striking at us. But the rejection of Jews is also a massive problem on the streets and in schools.”

The Council reiterated its call for law enforcement officers, teachers and other public officials to be given adequate training in recognizing and responding to antisemitism.

Seehoffer’s comments on Wednesday followed police raids on the homes of 31 suspected members of the “Reich Citizens Movement” — a far-right grouping that rejects the post-World War II German state.

“According to our information there are still some 500 Reich Citizens permitted to hold weapons,” Seehoffer said. “I’m saying here that every weapon allowed is one too many.”

The interior minister’s remarks were strong criticized by Germany’s main far-right party, the Alternative for Germany (AfD). Beatrix von Storch — deputy chairwoman of the AfD parliamentary group —  accused Seehoffer of deliberately ignoring Muslim antisemitism.

“Seehofer only repeated the politically-correct assertion for the mainstream that 93 percent of anti-Semitism comes from the ‘right’ in Germany,” she said.

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