Germany will ban 'enemies lists' in campaign against far right
Package of measures will strengthen German security services
Germany will strengthen its security services, clamp down on “enemies lists” and convene a special task force on hatred targeting Muslims as part of a major package of measures against far-right extremism.
The set of 89 proposals was signed off by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Cabinet on Wednesday after a series of far-right atrocities that rattled Germany.
The package includes tighter gun laws, measures to tackle online hatred and closer co-operation between security services.
There will also be more funding for education and civil society groups and a new government-commissioned study into racism in Germany.
“Never before has the government done so much to tackle right-wing extremism, racism and anti-Semitism,” said Interior Minister Horst Seehofer.
“It is a central ambition of this government to strengthen the defences of our democracy.”
One of the specific proposals is for the distribution of enemies lists, also described by the government as “death lists”, to be made a specific criminal offence.
The lists are used by extremists to intimidate their enemies into silence because they fear reprisals from the far right, the government said.
Reforms to the security services will include closer co-operation between criminal investigators and a military counter-intelligence service.
Measures will be drawn up to tackle extremism in the German Army after a report found hundreds of suspected cases in the security services.
Another proposal envisages an Independent Expert Council on Islamophobia, which will issue a report within two years on racism against Muslims.
The body appears to sideline the Ministry of the Interior's own German Islam Conference and is tasked with an independent look into the overlap between Islamophobia and anti-Semitism.
In a separate measure by regional authorities, the anti-Islam protest movement Pegida is set to be placed under tighter surveillance in its home state of Saxony.
Pegida responded by urging its supporters to gather for a socially distanced rally in Dresden, the capital of Saxony, next week.
Package aims to tackle far-right ideology
Meanwhile, Germany’s Culture Ministry will get €30 million ($36m) to help steer people away from extremist ideologies.
The ministry said it would seek to improve young people’s media literacy and their political and historical understanding.
“Hate, exclusion and discrimination have to be confronted where they begin: in the mind and also in the language that people use,” Culture Minister Monika Gruetters said.
“That means we have to engage early and pre-emptively with young people in the fight against right-wing extremism and racism.”
Among the projects receiving money is an archive of victims of the Nazi regime, which belongs to Unesco’s register of world documentary heritage.
The proposals emerged from a cabinet committee chaired by Mrs Merkel, which was set up last year after an extremist opened fire at two shisha lounges in Hanau and killed 10 people.
Last year, there were more than 23,000 far-right crimes registered in Germany, the government said, including the Hanau attack.
In January this year, German neo-Nazi Stephan Ernst was sentenced to life in prison for murdering pro-migration politician Walter Luebcke.
In 2019, two people were killed after a neo-Nazi tried to enter a synagogue in Halle on the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur.
Mr Seehofer said the new package was a solid foundation on which future governments could build, with an election drawing nearer in which Mrs Merkel's party could lose power.
"Much has been done, but anyone who wants to defend our country in the long term against the enemies of our open society must see the fight against extremism as a permanent political task," he said.
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Published: May 13, 2021 12:48 PM