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Extremist violence 'exploded' in record year for refugees

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Extremist violence 'exploded' in record year for refugees
Left-wing violence at the Blockupy protest in Frankfurt in March 2015. Photo: DPA.
17:57 CEST+02:00
It is now official: 2015 smashed all records for political violence, as the far right attacked refugee homes and the far left responded by attacking them in turn, Interior Ministry figures show.

The crime statistics released by the Interior Ministry on Monday revealed that 39,000 politically motivated crimes were committed in 2015, a surge of almost 19 percent on the previous year.

A majority (23,000) of these crimes had a far-right motive behind them. That figure in itself is an astonishing 34.9 percent higher than in 2014.

Meanwhile 9,600 of the crimes were attributed to the far-left scene, a rise of more than 18 percent on the previous year.

Figures for political violence have been recorded separately from other crimes since 2001, and the 2015 stats are a new record high.

Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière described the figures as “practically exploding”, saying that extremist violence posed a threat to German society.

Most of the recorded crimes involve the spreading of propaganda or inciting hatred. But violent crime also hit a record high.

Police recorded 4,400 violent political crimes in 2015, an increase of 30 percent.

Of these crimes, 20 have involved investigations of attempted murder, with several of the targets being police officers and refugees.

The crime figures also showed that attacks on refugee homes had increased by a factor of five. In 2014 there were 199 recorded cases, but in 2015 this jumped to 1,031.

Included in this category of crimes were the spraying of swastikas and other neo-Nazi symbols on refugee centre walls, as well as arson attacks.

According to the Interior Ministry, most of those convicted of these crimes were men between the ages of 18 and 30, living near the refugee centres and who had never been found guilty of a crime before.

“It is a sign of the polarization taking place in communities,” said de Maizière, adding that investigations are made all the more difficult when perpetrators have no previous criminal history.

The number of solved cases of attacks on refugee homes lay at 26 percent in 2015, the figures show - a number de Maizière admitted was “too low”.

Hate crimes - those directed against specific social groups, such as Muslims, Jews, or homosexuals - also soared by 77 percent in comparison with 2014.

The Interior Minister said there was a brutalization taking place in German society and condemned the “gutter talk” taking place on the internet.

He also cast doubt on the idea that the criminality would die down as fewer refugees enter the country.

In the first three months of 2016, 350 attacks on refugee homes were recorded, he said, three times the number for that period in 2015.

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