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Germany

Calls to Get Tougher on German Right-Wing Extremists

After a knife attack by a right-wing extremist on a German police chief, German politicians are calling to stepped up vigilance against the right-wing scene. The attack has fueled calls to ban the far-right NPD party.

skinheads

Politicians are calling for authorities to crack down harder on the right-wing scene

Over the weekend, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier called for stepping up the fight against far-right statements and acts. He told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper that the knife attack on Alois Mannichl, police chief in the southern German city of Passau, was very troubling.

"This is not about right-wing nuts or rampaging skinheads," he said. "Here we have brutal criminals out for someone's blood."

Mannichl was attacked on Dec. 13 with a knife outside his home by an alleged right-wing extremist and seriously wounded. At the time of the attack, the assailant reportedly told Mannichl: "Greetings from the national resistance," a term used by the neo-Nazi scene.

Alois Mannichl, left, and his wife talk to journalists upon leaving the hospital after the attack

Alois Mannichl, left, and his wife talk to journalists upon leaving the hospital after the attack

Mannichl, who is known for his strong stand against the far-right, has pledged to press on with his work.

Horst Seehofer, premier of Bavaria and leader of the conservative CSU party, told the Bild am Sonntag: "We must stand up to the right-wing octopus.

"At public events like torchlight processions or concerts, we need to intervene more quickly," he added.

New ban proceedings?

Seehofer announced an initiative by the upper house of parliament to explore a ban of the National Democratic Party (NPD), a far-right, anti-foreigner, racist group that is home to many with extreme views.

Steinmeier expressed his support for beginning proceedings to outlaw the party. "The events in Passau provide new reasons for a ban," he said.

anti-extremist demonstration

Some 300 people demonstrated against violence by the far-right in Passau

Last week, Chancellor Angela Merkel told a news conference that the government was seriously considering ways to ban the NPD. But she also warned that "any action against the extreme right must be guaranteed to work as the worst result would be a second failure" to ban the NPD.

The previous center-left government had tried to outlaw the party, but the case was thrown out in 2003 by the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe which said that testimony against the party was possibly tainted by police informers who had infiltrated it.

Federal Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has expressed skepticism at pursuing a ban.

"We cannot apply for a ban of the NPD unless we are absolutely sure we can win one," he told the Bild am Sonntag paper.

"We would do our goal of defending our open society against its enemies a great service if we were to fail in Karlsruhe again."

The NPD holds no seats in the federal parliament, but is represented in two states in eastern Germany. The party had not been directly linked to the Passau stabbing. Authorities have registered some 950 attacks by far-right extremists nationwide this year, including one killing.

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