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'Remigration': Right-wing extremist to hold forth in Berlin

July 11, 2024

Germany has been unable to impose a travel ban on Austrian right-wing extremist Martin Sellner. He is set to talk about about his "remigration" idea at a meeting for affiliates of the AfD.

Martin Sellner speaking into a microphone
Martin Sellner is a leading far-right extremist from AustriaImage: Sebastian Willnow/dpa/picture alliance

Austrian right-wing extremist Martin Sellner is set to travel to Berlin on Friday to give a speech on his favorite topic, "remigration," at the Staatsreparatur (repairing the state) organization, which is run by former Berlin lawmaker Andreas Wild, of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.

"Remigration" is the term that right-wing extremists have adopted as a euphemism for the forced expulsion and mass deportation of people with a migration background.

In November 2023, Sellner attended a meeting of right-wing radicals in a villa near Potsdam and gave a speech on "remigration." Politicians from the AfD party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), and the ultraconservative association Werteunion, which is now also a party, were also present.

The meeting was reported by investigative journalists from the media outlet Correctiv and triggered a wave of protests nationwide against the far right.

Conflict Zone Special: Democracy under Threat

Targeting immigrants

In April, Sellner said on the DW program "Conflict Zone" that he didn't understand all the fuss. He claimed that he only wants to deport illegal immigrants, contrary to what Correctiv reported about the meeting.

He also suggested that pressure should be put on immigrants with German passports if they are unwilling to integrate.

"I want to make life unpleasant for those people who want to Islamize the country, those people who want to exploit our social systems," Sellner said.

His speech in November almost got Sellner himself deported and barred from reentering Germany.

In the end, Sellner went to court, which ruled that he was allowed to enter Germany for the time being because it could not be sufficiently proven that Sellner posed an "actual and sufficiently serious threat to public order or security."

Travel ban unsuccessful

This decision exposed the difficulty of legally enforcing a travel ban on EU citizens.

Other countries, including the US and the UK, have already denied the Austrian entry. It was previously revealed that Sellner was in contact with Brenton Tarrant, the Australian terrorist who killed 51 Muslims in a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March 2019.

The 35-year-old Sellner is one of the most important figures in the radical right-wing scene in the German-speaking world. He joined the neo-Nazi scene in Austria as a teenager and was mentored by convicted Holocaust denier Gottfried Küssel.

Sellner openly acknowledged his past in his interview with DW: "When I was young, I was in this right-wing subculture, and I have never made a secret of it."

Until last year, Sellner was Austria's leading voice of the Identitarian Movement (IB). The IB fights for an ethnically homogeneous European culture and believes that this identity (hence the name) is being threatened by the immigration of non-European, primarily Muslim migrants.

What is the Identitarian Movement about?

'Great Replacement' theory

Sellner and the IB also openly use the term "Great Replacement". It refers to the idea that there is a conspiracy to replace the white majority population in Western countries with mass immigration of non-whites and Muslims.

In the DW interview, he uses phrases such as "Our culture is under threat" and "We are not extreme, today's immigration policy is extreme."

In 2019, Germany's Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution classified the IB as a clear right-wing extremist organization and placed it under surveillance because its views are incompatible with the German constitution.

At the time, the president of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Thomas Haldenwang, explained: "These ideological arsonists are questioning the principle of human equality or even human dignity itself, talking about being overrun by foreigners, exalting their own identity to devalue others, and deliberately stirring up hostility towards others."

Sellner's movement is also under surveillance by the state security authorities in his home country of Austria. In 2014, the Austrian Office for the Protection of the Constitution confirmed that the organization has a "racist/nationalist worldview." However, the IB has not yet been banned in either Germany or Austria.

Active on social media

Sellner effectively uses social media to spread his message but has also been banned repeatedly. For example, his channel on YouTube. For violating their user agreements, he has also been suspended from Instagram and Twitter's successor X, and blocked from Facebook. Eventually, Sellner switched to Telegram and Rumble. Sellner's account on X was unblocked again in March 2024.

On DW's "Conflict Zone" program, Sellner said he pioneered a movement: "We're not too radical. We're just ahead of our times. In five to ten years, everyone in Europe will be calling for remigration."

Thus far, German authorities have been unable to use the courts to stop Martin Sellner from making appearances like the one planned for Friday in Berlin.

This article was originally written in German.

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