German youth widely xenophobic

Xenophobia is widespread among German youth, according to a confidential government study on juvenile violence.

German youth widely xenophobic
Will xenophobia lead to violence? Photo: DPA

Almost a third of all German schoolchildren agreed “completely” with the statement that there are too many foreigners in Germany. Another third of those asked “mostly” agreed.

The report by a nationwide committee working to combat youth violence was prepared for Thursday’s conference of German state interior ministers and was leaked by the regional daily paper Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung.

Almost a fifth of the 9th grade kids asked also had open prejudices against Islam and one out of every 13 admitted to committing a hate crime like spraying a swastika on a wall or damaging the property of foreigners.

The study included 50,000 children with both German and non-German background in 61 different cities. The survey of youth opinion was conducted in schools across the country under the auspices of the federal Interior Ministry and the Institute for Criminology Research in Lower Saxony.

The new study confirms the findings of other research into racism among young people, said Gabi Elverich at the Centre for the Prevention of Right-Wing Extremism and Xenophobia at the German Youth Institute.

“Studies prove there is a problem of xenophobia among young people in Germany,” Elverich told The Local.

While many studies point to particular problems in the east, problems exist in all age groups and across the country, with various studies pointing to problems in different areas, Elverich said:

“In the west, one study shows there is a particular problem with people aged over 65, so it’s not just young people. Something else that has been noted is that the problem is actually worse in areas without immigrants.”

While many schools in Germany are working hard to combat racism and xenophobia, overworked teachers often find it hard to get to grips with the root causes of the problems.

“This kind of work [combating xenophobia] is not as easy as doing maths and geography. To teach the issues, teachers have to confront their own attitudes too. And at a time when we have lots of educational reforms, teachers are finding it a strain,” Elverich said.

Civic education is part of the German curriculum, but little time is devoted to the subject, Elverich said. Much of the anti-racism education in schools takes the form of troubleshooting, with little regular attention given to the issue, according to Elverich.

“Often when something happens they have a workshop, but the problem is that one day won’t change the world.”


German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

A 50-year-old German man was jailed for life Tuesday for shooting dead a petrol station cashier because he was angry about being told to wear a mask while buying beer.

German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

The September 2021 murder in the western town of Idar-Oberstein shocked Germany, which saw a vocal anti-mask and anti-vaccine movement emerge in response to the government’s coronavirus restrictions.

The row started when 20-year-old student worker Alex W. asked the man to put on a mask inside the shop, as required in all German stores at the time.

After a brief argument, the man left.

The perpetrator – identified only as Mario N. – returned about an hour and a half later, this time wearing a mask. But as he bought his six-pack of beer to the till, he took off his mask and another argument ensued.

He then pulled out a revolver and shot the cashier in the head point-blank.

On Tuesday, the district court in Bad-Kreuznach convicted Mario N. of murder and unlawful possession of a firearm, and handed him a life sentence.

READ ALSO: Shock in Germany after cashier shot dead in Covid mask row

Under German law, people given a life sentence can usually seek parole after 15 years. His defence team had sought a sentence of manslaughter, rather than murder.

At the start of the trial, prosecutor Nicole Frohn told how Mario N. had felt increasingly angry about the measures imposed to curb the pandemic, seeing them as an infringement on his rights.

“Since he knew he couldn’t reach the politicians responsible, he decided to kill him (Alex W.),” she said.

Mario N. turned himself in to police the day after the shooting.

German has relaxed most of its coronavirus rules, although masks are still required in some settings, such as public transport.