Top German politician warns of racist attacks

7th June 2006, Comments 0 comments

7 June 2006, BERLIN - A senior member of Germany's parliament warned Wednesday - just two days before the football World Cup opens - that people with "dark skin" were far more likely to be the victims of racist attacks in eastern Germany.

7 June 2006

BERLIN - A senior member of Germany's parliament warned Wednesday - just two days before the football World Cup opens - that people with "dark skin" were far more likely to be the victims of racist attacks in eastern Germany.

Sebastian Edathy, chairman of the Bundestag's domestic affairs committee, expanded warnings made last month by former chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's spokesman about "no-go areas" for foreigners in former communist eastern Germany.

"People with dark skin are 20 times more likely to be the victim of a violent racist attack in eastern Germany (than in western Germany)," said Edathy in remarks made in the city of Heidelberg.

Edathy insisted he was not seeking to discriminate against economically hard-hit eastern Germany.

"This is not about slandering the east - it's simply a description of reality," he said.

Edathy appeared to base his comments on a report by Germany's federal security agency earlier this month which warned of a big neo- Nazi crime rise.

Far-right crime soared by almost 28 per cent in Germany last year compared with 2004, with 15,361 cases reported, said the report by the Verfassungsschutz (the Office for the Protection of the Constitution).

There were 958 violent neo-Nazi attacks in 2005, an increase of almost 24 per cent, the report said.

The four eastern German states, or Laender, had by far the highest per capita rates of neo-Nazi violence of Germany's 16 Laender, the report showed.

Saxony-Anhalt state had the highest rate with 4.29 violent rightist attacks per 100,000 people last year, followed by Brandenburg, Thuringia and Saxony.

The report said there are about 39,000 rightists in Germany, including some 10,400 believed to be violent street fighters and members of skinhead gangs, the report said.

Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has vowed to boost the police presence in problem areas and warns he will not tolerate "no-go areas."

A German-Ethiopian was badly injured in Brandenburg's capital, Potsdam, in an attack last April which federal prosecutors believe may have been racially motivated.

Last month a Berlin city politician, who is an ethnic Kurd originally from Turkey, was beaten in a suspected rightist attack.

Aside from fears of neo-Nazis targeting foreign visitors during the World Cup, rightists apparently plan to use the event as a global stage for rallies. Far-rightists are planning marches to back the Iranian football team in a show of sympathy for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has been widely condemned by the international community for casting doubt on the Holocaust and denying Israel's right to exist.

It remains unclear if President Ahmadinejad plans to come to Germany to watch the Iranian football team play.

Denying the Holocaust is a crime under German law but the Iranian leader would enjoy immunity if he chooses to attend.

Millions of foreign visitors are expected in Germany for the World Cup which opens Friday in Munich and ends on July 9 in Berlin.

DPA

Subject: German news

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