Germany Sees Strong Rise in Politically-Motivated Crime | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 11.05.2006
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Germany

Germany Sees Strong Rise in Politically-Motivated Crime

The number of criminal offenses from both the right and left sides of the political spectrum is growing in Germany. But the government says it will continue programs to combat this development.

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Demonstrations, like this neo-Nazi rally, are increasingly ending in violence

Politically-motivated crime in Germany saw a sharp increase last year. According to the Federal Interior Ministry, 26,401 criminal offenses triggered by political motives were reported in 2005 -- a rise of 24.7 percent. This is the second highest level since this classification was introduced in 2001.

About half of these crimes are cleared up.

Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said the figures were "far from good."

Schäuble said particularly the increase in politically-motivated violent crime from both sides of the political spectrum was "a cause for concern." It was up 36 percent to 2,448 offenses, which included assault, rioting or robbery. This topped previous high of 2,368 politically-motivated violent crimes in 2001.

Viole n t co n flicts betwee n political oppo n e n ts

"One of the significant reasons for this may be that the conflicts with the respective political opponent particularly at rallies are increasingly riddled with violence," Schäuble said. "It appears that progressively there is a development away from the traditional democratic culture of political debate to a heightened advocacy of one's own ideological position based on violence."

Rechtsextremisten marschieren durch Hamburg

A strong police presence at protests keeps both sides from attacking each other

Schäuble said the government would counter such a development in a decisive manner.

"We will continue the existing programs to combat right-wing extremism with full force and complement them with corresponding programs to combat extremist tendencies from other sectors, such as left-wing politically-motivated crime," he said.

Schäuble called for support from the public.

"We have to see to it that our democratic traditions and values are observed," he said. "This is also and mainly the case in the conflict with the respective political opponent."

Majority of offe n ses come from the right-wi n g

The largest proportion of politically-motivated crimes -- 15,914 (up 26.8 percent) -- was attributed to the right-wing.

Wolfgang Schäuble Pressekonferenz in Hamburg

Interior Minister Schäuble is intent on getting politically-motivated crime figures down

"More than two-thirds of these are so-called propaganda misdemeanors, such as the public use or distribution of unconstitutional forbidden symbols," Schäuble said. "This behavior is criminally relevant and as such should be penalized by police and the judicial system."

Left-wing crime totaled 4,898 offenses, an increase of 39.1 percent.

However, the amount of right-wing crime with a racist background was down slightly from 2,553 in 2004 to 2,493 offenses.

Neo-Nazi expelled from Saxo n ia n parliame n t

A German neo-Nazi politician was meanwhile expelled from a parliamentary sitting in the eastern state of Saxony for saying left-wingers should be taken away on trains, in a reference to the Nazi death camp transports.

Pressekonferenz der NPD in Freital

Leichsenring (second from left) with party colleagues

Uwe Leichsenring, a member of the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD), suggested that special trains were needed to take left-wingers who had a hand in May Day unrest to the state prosecutor's office to be charged.

Left Party parliamentary group leader Peter Porsch retorted that such trains had been used in the past, to which Leichsenring said: "Yes, yes, and sometimes one thinks they should be brought back when I look at some people."

His remarks drew sharp protests from other members of the Saxony parliament and the speaker of the regional legislature told him to leave the house. Leichsenring will not be allowed be to return to the legislature until June 21.

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