In Germany, violence against elected officials is increasing

In Germany, violence against elected officials is increasing

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Germany : In recent years, and particularly since the massive influx of refugees in 2005, the attacks of politicians have increased significantly.

Criticism, taunts, insults, sometimes an egg on the collar of the jacket (Helmut Kohl) or a spray of paint in the neck (Joschka Fischer) … Doing politics in Germany has never been without risk. The attack on Oskar Lafontaine is remembered in April 1990. A woman thrusts the blade of a knife into the neck of the SPD candidate at the Chancery. Lafontaine is seriously injured. A few months later, in October, another imbalance fired three shots at Wolfgang Schäuble. The Home Secretary survives the attack but remains paralyzed for life. Two attacks that are at the time an exception.

For some time now, however, physical violence and threats against German politicians have been on the rise. The recent beating of Frank Magnitz, leader of the federation of the populist party AfD in Bremen, a member of the Bundestag since the last elections, shocked the country, all political tendencies. Tuesday, January 8, attacked from behind and beaten by masked men who have fled, Frank Magnitz, 66, collapses and is injured in the head by falling to the ground. He is hospitalized urgently. Police suspect a politically motivated act, but have not yet managed to trace the aggressors. Politicians on all sides hastened to condemn this gesture. “Any form of violence against an elected official is an attack on our rule of law,” said Frank-Walter Steinmeier (SPD), while environmentalist Cem Özdemir believes that nothing can justify violence, including against AFD.

Increasing aggressions

This is not the first time in recent years that an elected official is a victim of such aggression. Only a few weeks ago, an explosion took place in the offices of the AfD in Döbeln, a small town in Saxony. She did not make any victims. Again, the CDU and the SPD condemn the attack with one voice. On the eve of her election as mayor of Cologne in 2015, Henriette Reker, who had greeted the reception of refugees, was attacked in a stab market by a former member of a small neo-Nazi party banned since. Seriously injured in the stomach and throat, she won the election. The perpetrator, a long-term unemployed person, is opposed to receiving refugees.

Violence has increased particularly in Germany since 2015, when refugees flocked to the country. According to a survey commissioned by the Huffington Post, the number of physical assaults of German officials is indeed sharply increased. The most affected are the elected members of the former GDR, especially in Saxony, the cradle of the far right where the AfD has scored high scores in the 2017 elections, narrowly doubling the CDU to become the first party of the Land. In North Rhine-Westphalia, the biggest Land, the Minister of the Interior records 40 assaults for the past year, three times more than in 2014. According to the police, the attackers come in most cases extreme right-wing circles. But some attacks are also perpetrated by the extreme left.

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