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German president: Citizens must fight hate and violence

March 10, 2020

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has appealed to the "silent majority" of Germans to be "loud in the face of hate and violence." Germany has seen an increased number of hate crimes in recent years.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Zwickau
The placard in the background reads: 'United against hate and violence'Image: picture-alliance/dpa/S. Kahnert

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier identified a "massive problem with hate and violence" in Germany at a discussion event on Tuesday in the eastern state of Saxony.

Steinmeier appealed to what he called the people of the "silent majority," who want to live in peace with one another and stand against violence.

"But these people — the majority — need to learn to be loud," the president said in an appeal to assembled citizens. "Raise your voices against hate and violence."

Read more: Opinion: Hate in the heart of Germany

The comments come as the number of far-right and racially motivated hate crimes in Germany are on the rise, for example when a racist shooter killed 11 people in Hanau in February.

Steinmeier visits a memorial
Steinmeier visits a memorial for victims killed by the far-right NSU terror cellImage: picture-alliance/dpa/S. Kahnert

'No one can be silent'

"There is a climate of indignation and disinhibition, of degradation and rabble-rousing — a climate that we can no longer accept," he said.

"No one can say any more that it does not affect them. And no one can be silent," he added.

The remarks were made in the eastern city of Zwickau at a state discussion event called "Together against Hate and Violence," where local politicians, researchers and representatives of other authorities spoke and debated.

Read more: Germany underestimated far-right terror for 'too long'

Local politicians are especially often the victims of attack. One survey showed that one third of German mayors had been subject to verbal or physical abuse.

After the discussion, Steinmeier joined other representatives in attending a ceremony in Zwickau at a memorial for victims of the "National Socialism Underground," or NSU, a far-right terror cell responsible for killing nine people between 2000 and 2007. 

ed/ng (AFP, dpa, epd) 

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