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Politician's killing prompts call for tracking neo-Nazis

July 8, 2019

Following the death of a regional politician, Lower Saxony's interior minister wants the government to track neo-Nazis. Boris Pistorius says agents could adapt methods that monitor people suspected of religious violence.

Walter Lübcke's house in Wolfhagen-Istha
Image: Reuters/R. Orlowski

In an interview with the daily Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung published on Monday, Lower Saxony Interior Minister Boris Pistorius called for closer monitoring of people believed to be plotting acts of violence with racist, anti-immigrant or neo-Nazi motives.

Pistorius, a member of the Social Democrats (SPD), told the newspaper that he and interior ministers from other SPD-led states would discuss this week how to employ methods already used to keep tabs on suspected religious extremists.

He suggested that an "early warning" system used to rate the potential danger posed by suspected extremists with religious motives could be adapted to turn a critical and early eye to the threat of neo-Nazi violence.

Read more: Nazi Germany's suicide wave

"Operationally, we would adjust the focus to these new dangers," Pistorius said, noting that racism and xenophobia had entered the mainstream political discussion. "Things that would have been unspeakable 10 years ago are today said by certain political groups. Lines are being crossed, basic values such as human dignity are being called into question, and clearly racist thoughts are being expressed."

German politician killing

Read more: The neo-Nazi network facing a ban in Germany

The state interior minister's call for better monitoring of potentially violent neo-Nazi groups comes a little over a month after Walter Lübcke, the head of the Kassel regional government, was found dead in his garden. A 45-year-old suspect with links to right-wing extremists initially admitted to killing Lübcke, but later retracted his confession.

Read more: Police stop far-right band performances in eastern Germany

Pistorius explicitly mentioned the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) as a group that has been developing "for some time in an anti-constitutional direction" and called on the domestic intelligence agency to put the party under surveillance.

Read more: German journalists receive letters containing white powder

Observers of law enforcement agencies say Germany's government has put a disproportionate emphasis on people believed to be planning religiously motivated violence and turned a blind eye to the threat posed by neo-Nazi groups.

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