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Monday, 8 March 2010

German anti-Nazi campaigners call for crisis meeting to fight far-right crime

Activists from the „Show your Face“ campaign on Monday demanded a national effort to curb rising far-right crime, saying government plans to cut funding will only serve to worsen neo-Nazi problems.
The German anti-Nazi campaign “Show your Face” on Monday demanded concerted action to curb the rising influence of neo-Nazi ideology, notably among young Germans.

“We need a national effort that goes beyond mere words of concern whenever another case of rightwing violence occurs,” said Uwe-Karsten Heye, the head of the campaign.

Heye pointed to rising far-right crime rates, which had more than doubled in the course of the past ten years.

In 2001, some 10.054 recorded crimes were committed by German neo-Nazis. According to Heye, such cases have since skyrocketed to reach 20,422 in 2008. In addition, some 149 people have been killed by neo-Nazis over the past 20 years.

Neo Nazi Ideology takes root
Heye added that rightwing organizations, such as the National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD), are increasingly targeting the younger generation.
According to a recent opinion poll, 4.9 percent of all 15-year old boys and 2.6 percent of all girls of that age are already involved with a far-right group.
“The NPD is seen as a revolutionary protest party, which offers activities that are hugely attractive for young people,” Heye said.
Within the past seven years the neo-Nazi NPD has increased the number of seats it holds on German municipal councils from a few dozen to more than 300 now.
“But wherever neo-Nazis face resistance from the general public, their outreach is limited.” Heye said.

Funding in doubt

Joerg Wanke, campaign leader in the small town of Zossen, south of Berlin, said the aim of the intitiative was not only to prevent acts of far-right crime.

“We also want to strengthen democracy and tolerance among the population at large to be able to undermine the foundation of rightwing extremist views,” he said.
Wanke and Heye both criticized plans by the conservative-liberal government in Berlin to cut funding for anti-Nazi projects, including the “Show your Face” campaign.
The government believes that more funds must be devoted to rising left-wing crime, and Muslim fundamentalism in Germany.
But Uwe-Karsten Heye disagrees. “Attempts to equate right-wing violence with Muslim fundamentalism and left-wing extremism, plays down the neo-Nazi threat to German security. The far right problem is still much bigger.”