The number of anti-Semitic and xenophobia-related crimes rose in Germany last year, although there was an overall drop in politically motivated crime, according to statistics released by the German Interior Ministry on Tuesday.
The ministry's report on politically motivated crime showed that anti-Semitic incidents rose from 1,504 in 2017 to 1,799 last year, an increase of 19.6%. Similarly, anti-foreigner crimes increased by 19.7% last year, from 6,434 incidents in 2017 to 7,701 in 2018.
Roughly nine out of 10 of all anti-Semitic and anti-foreigner related crimes were committed by right-wing perpetrators. The main offenses included hate speech, anti-Semitic graffiti and displaying banned signs such as the swastika.
Hate crimes overall saw a slight increase of 2.5% to 8,113 from 7,913.
"This is a development that we have to confront, especially in this country," German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer told a news conference, alluding to Germany's Nazi history. "This is a job for the police as well as the whole society."
Overall, the Interior Ministry said politically motivated crimes decreased by 8.7% to 36,062 last year, the second consecutive year of decline.
However, it is the third highest tally of politically motivated crimes since the ministry started keeping the statistics in 2001. Right-wing crimes made up most of the incidents, with 20,431 recorded in 2018 — a slight decrease of 0.4%.
Authorities suspected that a lack of overtly political major events in Germany in 2018 explained the reduction in overall numbers. In 2017, for instance, Germany underwent a national election campaign and there were large-scale far-left demonstrations and sometimes violent protests accompanying the G20 summit in Hamburg.
Uptick in 'foreign ideologically' motivated crimes
The report also showed a drastic increase in crimes committed for so-called "foreign ideological" grounds — from 1,617 in 2017 to 2,487 last year, an increase of 53.8%.
The Interior Ministry attributed the sharp uptick to a growing strife between groups from Turkey who have been involved in conflicts in their home country. Last year's military intervention by Turkey in Afrin in Syria, in particular, led to "a considerable increase in typical protest-related crimes," and led to attacks on Turkish facilities in Germany. The Ministry said that German public perception of Kurds as victims in Turkey was growing, but added that its priority remained bringing an end to activities by the banned Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK) in Germany.
Conversely, crimes deemed to be motivated by religious ideology dropped by 46.9 percent, though the interior ministry has warned that Germany remains "a focus for Islamic terrorists and Islamic terrorism remains a large danger for internal security."
dv/msh (AP, Reuters)