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Germany

Report: Number of Neo-Nazis Rises in Germany

A new report by Germany's domestic intelligence office says the number of neo-Nazi activists in Germany went up last year, while the number of right-wing extremists willing to use violence increased marginally.

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Their numbers are going up, according to a new report

Quoting Germany's Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the mass circulation newspaper Bild am Sonntag reported on Sunday that the number of members of neo-Nazi groups had risen from 3,800 to 4,100 last year, while right-wing extremists identified as being willing to resort to physical violence had increased slightly from 10,000 to 10,400.

However the total number of right-wing extremists had declined marginally from 40,700 to 39,000 because of a drop in the numbers of two of three right-wing parties, the Deutsche Volksunion (German People's Union) and the Republicans, the paper reported.

Highlighting the threat posed by these groups, a politician in Berlin's regional assembly who is of Turkish origin was seriously injured in Berlin on Friday after being attacked by two men who called him a "dirty foreigner," police said.

Giyasettin Sayan

Left party politician Giyasettin Sayan

Giyasettin Sayan of the Left party suffered head injuries and bruising after he was struck by a bottle in a street in his Lichtenberg ward in the east of the capital.

Police slow to react, politician says

Social Democratic parliamentarian Sebastian Edathy, who is half Indian, has publicly said that he would not travel to certain parts of Berlin at night, further fuelling the debate that has started about labeling certain areas in eastern Germany "no-go" zones for dark-skinned foreigners.

In the Bild am Sonntag, Edathy said that quite often, police are too slow to react to incidents with a potentially racist background.

"There are cases in which the police don't act quickly enough," he said. "Complaints and phone calls are sometimes not taken seriously enough."

Edathy called for police to place a higher priority on dealing with right-wing extremism when training staff.

Bad news for World Cup visitors?

Concern at the possibility of racial violence has been increasing ahead of the World Cup scheduled to start on June 9, following news of several racist attacks in Berlin and eastern Germany in recent weeks.

Some observers fear that neo-Nazis will try to exploit the event by holding demonstrations to spread their ideas.

Neonazi-Aufmarsch in Halberstadt

Police say they can't ensure safety at demos such as this one during the World Cup

Speaking to news magazine Der Spiegel, the head of Germany's police union, Konrad Freiburg, appealed to authorities not to permit any demonstrations close to stadiums where World Cup matches will be played.

One right-wing rally is already expected to take place in Leipzig on June 21 when Iran will be playing Angola. Neo-Nazis plan to back up anti-Semitic statements made by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Der Spiegel reported.

Freiberg was quoted by the magazine as saying that the police would be unable to ensure safety during such demonstrations.

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