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World Cup visitors told to avoid area in Germany

Published on May 17, 2006

17 May 2006

BERLIN – A former spokesman for the German government under Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder Wednesday warned World Cup visitors to avoid parts of the state of Brandenburg because of racial attacks.

“There are small and medium-sized towns in Brandenburg and elsewhere where I would not advise anyone with a different skin colour to go,” said Uwe-Karsten Heye in a German radio interview. “There is a chance they might not get out alive.”

Brandenburg, which surrounds Berlin, has the highest per capita rate of violent neo-Nazi crime in all of Germany’s 16 federal states, according to a report for 2004 issued by the domestic security agency, the Verfassungsschutz.

On Monday, a court in the Brandenburg town of Senftenberg handed down a 13-month jail sentence to a German neo-Nazi who goose-stepped up to a group of Polish tourists on the main square and began punching and kicking them. Three of the victims suffered head injuries.

In another case, two men are in custody for the savage beating of an Ethiopian-born German citizen near Berlin last month. Federal prosecutors took over the inquiry amid national shock at the beating in the Brandenburg capital of Potsdam.

Heye, who was Schroeder’s spokesman from 1998-2002, currently chairs an organisation dedicated to promoting tolerance in Germany.

Hundreds of thousands of foreign tourists are expected to come to Germany for the World Cup, which is being staged in 12 cities from June 9.


Subject: German News