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Debate on Xenophobia

DW staff (tt)
May 11, 2007

German opposition lawmakers accused the grand coalition government of Christian and Social Democrats of doing too little to curb right-wing extremism and xenophobia as one of its most obvious expressions.

Opposition parties think the government is doing too little to fight right-wing extremismImage: picture-alliance/ dpa

Members of the opposition Left party said on Friday the government was doing everything conceivable to hunt down real and suspected ultra-left anarchists in the run-up to the G8 summit in the north of Germany, but was failing to address the problem of growing right-wing extremism in a proper way.

Miriam Gruss, a parliamentarian from the opposition free-market Liberal Democrats (FDP) added that the government just didn't want to realize that growing xenophobia was posing a huge threat to society at large.

"Every fourth German harbors anti-foreigner sentiments," said Gruss. "Right-wing extremism is clearly rooted in the middle of society, it's not a minor phenomenon.

"Xenophobia in particular can be found in all parts of Germany and among people of all age groups and educational backgrounds," she said.

Winning back youth

Deutschland G8 Sicherheit Terror Razzia in Hamburg Verhaftung
Police recently raided apartments and offices run by leftist groups in several German citiesImage: AP

Christoph Bergner, an MP for the governing Social Democratic Party (SDP), however, defended the government's initiatives in the fight against extremism.

He pointed out that the German parliament allocates 19 million euros annually to bring back into the mainstream young people who've left the straight and narrow path.

"A special program called 'Youth for Democracy and Tolerance' was started in January of this year," Bergner said. We hope it (the program) will have the desired effect."

Incident in Saxony

NPD-Aufmarsch in Halberstadt
NPD represents extreme right-wing viewsImage: AP

The most recent Bundestag debate about xenophobia was overshadowed by an incident in Saxony's regional parliament where a politician of the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD) used a a debate about immigration and asylum to hurl a string of racist insults.

Among other tasteless comments, NPD lawmaker Holger Apfel "this multi-coloured Germany is an outrageous injustice" and that German politicians should finally realize that "arrogant black people, Tartar tribesmen and state-subsidized oriental mega-families" could never be integrated into German society.

His speech in the parliament first went uncommented. It was only half a day later that the Christian Democrats' parliamentary speaker acknowledged that Apfel's words came close to incitement of the people.

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