Germany sees 'extremely alarming' rise in racist and anti-Semitic hate crime

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Germany sees 'extremely alarming' rise in racist and anti-Semitic hate crime
At a planned centre for refugee families in Groß, Lüsewitz, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, hostile graffiti reads: 'foreigners, no thank you'. Photo: DPA

Xenophobic and anti-Semitic hate crime rose by nearly 20 percent in Germany last year, according to the latest Interior Ministry data published Tuesday.


In its report, the ministry listed 7,701 xenophobic criminal acts, a jump of 19.7 percent compared to 2017.

Anti-Semitic offences totalled 1,799 after a similar increase. Almost 90 percent of perpetrators had a right-wing extremist background, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer told a press conference.

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Despite a post-war culture of repentance for the Nazi era and Holocaust, Germany has not bucked a European tend of increasing hate speech and attacks against Jews.

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas expressed his concern at the Berlin launch of a European network called Combating Anti-Semitism Through Education.

All over Europe, hatred of Jews and violence against minorities are now rampant, Maas said.

Historical awareness is the best shield against intolerance, racism and anti-Semitism, he said, urging efforts to close "gaps in knowledge".

The challenges had increased with the arrival of migrants who grew up with anti-Semitic stereotypes, he said, stressing however that anti-Semitism is "not an imported product".

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Maas urged tolerance toward all minorities, saying that "in a free and tolerant Europe, we must protect a woman with a headscarf from insults and assaults just as we must protect a man with a kippa".

Felix Klein, Germany's commissioner for Anti-Semitism said he was "extremely alarmed" by the sharp rise.

"Against the background of falling inhibitions and brutalisation of the social climate in Germany, I had expected an increase in anti-Semitic crimes in 2018," Klein told German daily Welt.

"However, I consider the fact that the increase was so high to be extremely alarming."

Klein said Germany must now "mobilise all our forces in politics and civil society" to counter "this trend".



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