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World Cup Guide Highlights Germany's Racist Hotspots

DW staff (nda)May 3, 2006

A guide to potential racial hot spots in Germany will go live on the Internet and be published in brochure form in time to warn visitors to the World Cup of areas known for far-right extremism.

Un-welcome committee: The guide suggests fans steer clear of Germany's neo-NazisImage: AP

The "No-Go" guide, compiled by the Africa Council, an umbrella organization of African community groups and activists in Germany, focuses particularly on areas of Berlin and eastern cities like Leipzig and Dresden where neo-Nazi groups and far-right extremists are known to be based.

The guide, which warns visitors that they could be the victims of racist attacks if they stray into extremist territory, comes at a time of particular sensitivity in Germany. A German national of Ethiopian descent continues to fight for his life after suffering multiple skull fractures and brain trauma in what is suspected of having been a racially motivated attack in Potsdam on Easter Sunday.

The attack on Ermyas Mulugeta prompted nationwide demonstrations with thousands of Germans calling for politicians to take urgent action. It is thought that the African Council's decision to publish the guide was based on concerns over the safety of "non-white" supporters during the World Cup arising from the attack.

African Council warns of unsafe areas for "non-whites"

Weinende Frau vor ausgebranntem Asylbewerberheim in Lübeck. Bei dem Anschag kamen neun Menschen ums Leben.
African immigrants have been targeted by far-right groupsImage: AP

"Black people (in Germany) are facing racist assaults ranging from verbal insults to murder. There are areas where non-whites are simply not safe, not even to use public transport," Moctar Kamara, the Africa Council's president said in an interview with British broadsheet the Daily Telegraph. "That is why we are warning the thousands of football fans who are coming to Germany without knowing what could happen if they go into the wrong areas."

Kamara added that it was not only the supporters of participating countries such as Tunisia, Togo, Ghana, Ivory Coast or Angola who were in danger but fans of ethnic background from all the nations involved in the month-long tournament.

The guide specifically mentions the Berlin suburbs of Hellersdorf-Marzahn, Köpenick and Pankow, and the streets around the railway stations Ostkreuz and Lichtenberg as potential danger zones.

Berlin suburbs and eastern states on racist list

Saufen für das Reich
Extremists have found willing recruits in eastern GermanyImage: AP

The eastern states of Brandenburg and Saxony-Anhalt also get a special mention due to the steady increase in far-right and neo-Nazi activity in the regions, fuelled by high youth unemployment and the spread of extremist ideology among the disillusioned.

Fears have been stoked by government statistics showing assaults linked to far-right extremism are on the rise in Germany. According to the German Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the number of incidents linked to far-right extremism rose from 12,000 in 2004 to 15,000 in 2005. The number of violent right-wing extremists is estimated to be more than 10,000.

While the locations for matches involving Germany's traditional rivals -- England, Holland and Poland -- are not highlighted, the guide pays special attention to cities featuring African and Asian teams and areas where Brazil, Paraguay and Ecuador are due to play.

Critics accuse guide publishers of stoking fear

Fans of the African Nations Cup, Bild 1
Critics say the guide may give a false impression to fansImage: Confederation of African Football

Critics of the guide say that it wrongly singles out certain areas and regions as more xenophobic than others.

"There are xenophobic incidents, but they happen everywhere. I do not know why (the publishers) picked our state as the worst example," Anja Trojahn, a spokeswoman for the police in Magdeburg, the capital of Saxony-Anhalt, told the Telegraph.

A German government statement on the guide has called it "nonsense" and has accused it of "causing panic," while a statement from the Berlin police assured traveling supporters that there were "no no-go areas" in the German capital.