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Extremism: The Office for the Protection of the Constitution is increasingly keeping an eye on right-wing extremists

Extremism: The Office for the Protection of the Constitution is increasingly keeping an eye on right-wing extremists
Extremism: The Office for the Protection of the Constitution is increasingly keeping an eye on right-wing extremists

The number of right-wing extremists in Germany is growing, says the President of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution. His agency will soon reassess how much extremism there is in the AfD.

The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution has determined that the number of people belonging to the right-wing extremist spectrum continues to grow in Germany. “We are seeing a renewed increase in the number of violent right-wing extremists,” said the President of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Thomas Haldenwang, to the German Press Agency.

His agency plans to publish the 2023 report on the protection of the constitution next week. The growth in the potential number of people in this spectrum has recently been fed by various right-wing extremist structures, said Haldenwang. In 2022, things were different. The increase of around 14.5 percent to an estimated 38,800 right-wing extremists nationwide in the report on the protection of the constitution for 2022 was mainly due to the fact that for the first time a part of the AfD, which is being monitored by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution as a suspected case, was included.

The explanation at the time was: “In view of the continuing heterogeneity of content within the party, however, not all party members can be considered supporters of extremist movements.” The Federal Office estimated that 10,200 members of the AfD and its party youth (Young Alternative) belong to these movements. Lawsuits by the party and its youth organization against being observed as a suspected case failed in May before the Higher Administrative Court in Münster.

Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution will inform about reassessment of AfD

The Office for the Protection of the Constitution is already working on a new report assessing the AfD. A suspected case must be re-examined at regular intervals without any preconceived conclusions, explained the President of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution. Then there are three possibilities. Either the suspicion is not confirmed and the observation is ended, or the suspicion is confirmed, “and we are now talking about a proven right-wing extremist object of observation.”

It is also possible, however, that the actual evidence available has not yet become so strong that there is a conviction that this is a proven extremist effort. In this case, “we still have to examine certain different aspects and then we will continue to leave it as a suspected case.”

According to Haldenwang, the public will be informed of the results of the audit in any case. Election dates or election results are irrelevant. “In our work, we are guided strictly by our legal mandate and not by election results,” he stressed.

In March 2021, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution first announced that it had examined the entire AfD as a suspected case. Since then, “a strengthening of right-wing extremist currents within the party has been observed,” said Haldenwang.

New right stronger in the East

In the eastern German states in particular, there are predominantly functionaries in prominent positions who can be attributed to the so-called solidarity-patriotic camp, which is characterized by people like the Thuringian state chairman Björn Höcke. “Only a few members of the party are raising their voices and trying to push back this ethnic thinking,” said the head of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution.

This way of thinking is not to be found in the party’s basic program. However, party representatives have said things that show “that parts of the party are acting against our constitution and, in particular, violating the principle of human dignity.”

The boundaries of what can be said are shifting

Efforts by the so-called New Right are trying to bring their ideology into the mainstream of society. Their aim is to “make what was previously unsayable sayable again,” explained Haldenwang. “We experienced something like that on Sylt, where chants were clearly right-wing extremist.”

A video lasting just a few seconds shows and hears young people shouting racist slogans to the tune of the old hit “L’amour toujours” by Gigi D’Agostino at a Whitsun party on the island of Sylt. They sing “Germany for the Germans – foreigners out!” in an apparently unashamed and exuberant manner. One man makes a gesture reminiscent of the Hitler salute. None of those standing around seem to be bothered by this.

The AfD received 15.9 percent in the European elections in Germany on Sunday. Its top candidate Maximilian Krah and the number two on the electoral list, Petr Bystron, made headlines because of possible connections to pro-Russian networks, and Krah also because of possible connections to China. After controversial statements by Krah about the National Socialist SS became known, the right-wing ID group in the European Parliament excluded the AfD shortly before the election. In order to be able to rejoin the party, the newly elected AfD MPs decided by a majority on Monday not to accept Krah into their group.

Defense against traveling agents on Russian orders

Russia has built up a complex network of actors and instruments to influence society and political decisions in Germany, said Haldenwang. In order to prevent so-called traveling agents from infiltrating Germany, visa applications are carefully examined – anyone who is known to the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution and its partners will not receive a visa.

In the past, Russia has also tried to establish relationships with politicians, tap into them, obtain information, but also to persuade them to spread Russian narratives in parliament and in the media. “And now there is suspicion that this instrument is also being used in such a way that, for example, the Internet portal “Voice of Europe” was set up and financed by Russian authorities with the aim of using it to persuade politicians to engage in influence activities.” Several law enforcement agencies are investigating this matter.

Interviews with Krah and Bystron, among others, were published on the portal. The Czech newspaper “Denik N” reported at the beginning of April that money may have been transferred in the Bystron case. The AfD member of the Bundestag has repeatedly denied this. Krah also denies having accepted money from anyone associated with “Voice of Europe”.

Source: Stern

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