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“Ausländer Raus”: Problem That Does Not Want To Go Away

  • August 27th, 2007
  • Posted by EUEditor


If there is one thing that can cut Germany to the quick, then it’s far-right political extremism.

On 18-19.8.07 racist attacks in two small towns in both East and West Germany have disgusted the country, says our German writer Nina Plonka: SAD TRENDS

As sad as it is, racist attacks in Germany do not come as a surprise any more.

The figures on violent crimes motivated by right-wing extremism have increased by 30% from 832 in 2004 to 1100 in 2006.

Security authorities in a report recently leaked to the press, and other specialists in the field say the number of politically-linked, “far right” crimes has reached a record high.
Looking at the recent events, it seems that with the assaults, the number of people in the street who pretend not to have seen anything or even worse who would join the mob as fellow travellers has also risen — as the case of the small East German town Mügeln, 50 Kilometres from Leipzig, shows.

During a town festival eight Indian men there were attacked and chased through the streets until they found hiding in a pizzeria.

A crowd of around 50 mostly young Germans shouted: “Foreigners out!” (“Ausländer raus!”). Some of them smashed the doors and destroyed the car of one of the victims. All of the Indian men were injured, suffering from bruises and cuts in the face. Continuing a life in the town is impossible for them.

Investigations of that outbreak of violence have been progressing only slowly.

It appears the community is either too scared to come forward or too many people do not regret what happened that night.

Two men aged 21 and 23 were temporarily arrested shortly after the incident but were released afterwards.

Mügeln’s Mayor Gotthard Deuse says, “we don’t have an extreme right-wing scene here” (“Bei uns gibt es keine rechtsextreme Szene.”); but he’s admitted that youths had made a comment to him in July, to say: “there could be something happening” (“Jugendliche haben mir Anfang Juli berichtet, dass da irgendwas passieren könnte”). Why he ignored that comment? He doesn’t have an explanation.

It is not only Eastern Germany that suffers through public violence against foreigners.

On the same weekend as the manhunt in Mügeln, two Africans were attacked in Guntersblum, a town counting 4000 habitants about 30 kilometres south of Mainz.

Three offenders let loose on a Sudanese and an Egyptian at a wine festival. “We floor the negroes”, they shouted. (“Wir machen die Neger platt!”). Both African men had to be treated in hospital; the Egyptian man is reported to have lost a finger in the fight. One of the attackers has been arrested.

Germany is rattled by the attacks, which contribute to a reputation the country has been trying very hard to fight against for many years.

From the outside, hearing about racist assaults in a country with a fascistic history must lead to the conclusion: Germany cannot control the emerge of Neo-Nazis.

No wonder German politicians fear potential investors in the country’s economy will be scared away.

Unfortunately the political debate is not adding much sense and clarity; those taking part seem to be sending different signals in all directions at the same time: to various communities within Germany, the foreigners, the far-right, and those investors in other countries.

In the end, most of the political leadership are playing a blame game with one another, coming up with haphazard suggestions, and not focusing on the social problem.

Some have been demanding a unified action program that would be Europe-wide, designed to identify troublesome groups wherever they operate.

Before supporting any such program, other politicians first just want to find a culprit in their own political community, by accusing their opponents of not handling things effectively whenever they’ve had the chance in government.

Pointing at one another they will even seem rather glad to have found a tangible explanation for the rising number of racist attacks, in East Germany in particular: it’s all been caused by the other side.

More local initiatives seem to come last in the order of priorities.

The present, conservative government is currently under fire for having refused to renew financial support for social projects in the county that Mügeln belongs to. There’d been plans for youth orientated activities to reduce the impacts of unemployment or isolation, linked to the build-up of extremist politics

Withholding of such support is a shocking admission by the government that it is not getting ahead of the problem, especially given that the federal Minister for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, Ursula von der Leyen, just last Thursday published a report labelling Eastern Germany as “largely undeveloped in civil society traditions” (“Weitgehend unentwickelte zivilgesellschaftliche Traditionen”).

For years it has been well recognised that low employment rates, insecure jobs, cultural poverty, and an exodus of highly qualified workers from many communities in Eastern Germany, would provide an excellent breeding ground for right-wing extremism.

How can it be then that financial support for educational and integration projects was cancelled?

Such initiatives are the only thing Germany can place its trust in to fight off the troubling advance of far-right violence and racism.

Statements by the Chancellor, and Ministers, cannot reach people and convince them to abandon prejudices against foreigners living and working in their cities and towns.

It is a job for a strong community where multicultural skills are encouraged, and so may counter-act the activities of racialist groups on the far-right.

That is true for East and West alike; an all-German problem for all Germans to take on together.


Financial Times Deutschland
Süddeutsche Zeitung

Spiegel Online,1518,501937,00.html (27.8.07)

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