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Germany fears hate group renaissance

International | Attacks against minorities are on the rise
by Onize Ohikere
Posted 2/25/20, 02:41 pm

About 10,000 people marched through the streets of Hanau, Germany, on Sunday carrying Turkish flags and photos of the nine people killed in a mass shooting last week. The attack on migrants stoked fears of a larger problem of far-right violence in the country.

On Wednesday, 43-year-old Tobias Rathjen shot nine people, five of them of Turkish descent, at two hookah bars in Hanau, a commuter town near Frankfurt. One of the victims was five months pregnant. Police later found Rathjen and his 72-year-old mother dead in his home. In a manifesto posted online, Rathjen called for the “complete extermination” of many “races or cultures in our midst.”

The day after the attack, thousands turned out at candlelight vigils in Hanau and other German cities, chanting “Never again” and “Nazis out.” Hanau Mayor Claus Kaminsky told the demonstrators on Sunday that those who seek to divide their society will fail “because we are more and we will prevent that.”

Racist, xenophobic, and anti-immigrant extremism has motivated several attacks in Germany in the past year. Police arrested a suspected neo-Nazi in the shooting death of a pro-migration regional lawmaker in June. In October, a 27-year-old man tried to storm a synagogue in the eastern town of Halle on the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur. He killed two people outside the building after failing to get through the door. The gunman had expressed anti-Semitic views before the attack.

Last Tuesday, police announced they had rounded up 12 men, including an administrative police clerk, for planning to attack mosques in 10 German states. Authorities are still monitoring about 53 people associated with far-right movements who have violent tendencies.

Then on Monday, a 29-year-old German man drove a Mercedes station wagon into a crowd at a Carnival parade in the small town of Volkmarsen in central Germany. The crash wounded 35 people, about half of them children. Police have not said what motivated the driver, who is still in the hospital with a head injury. But the attack has the country on alert for more acts of domestic terrorism.

Protesters accuse the far-right Alternative for Germany party of indirectly encouraging such violence with its policies and the racist rhetoric of some of its members. It has grown into the country’s largest opposition party in recent years following the arrival in Germany of nearly 1 million migrants from outside the European Union since 2015.

The party blames refugees for making Germany unsafe and calls for the forceful deportation of foreigners. The German government has the party’s youth wing under constitutional watch, a monitoring process for groups with “extremist ambitions.” The party released a statement saying it rejected any links to the shooting in Hanau, noting that the gunman suffered “from paranoid hallucinatory schizophrenia.”

Patrik Hermansson of Hope Not Hate, a group that monitors the far-right, told The Guardian German security forces are just now starting to confront the reality of extremist threats: “In some cases, extremists have had links with the police and the military.”

Fearing copycat attacks, German officials have increased the security presence at mosques and public areas like train stations. Security forces are also preparing for possible reprisals after the Hanau shooting.

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer insisted the government had already stepped up its fight against far-right extremism, noting its increased recruiting of domestic intelligence agents and a recently approved bill to crack down on hate speech and online extremism. He called for additional “medical report or confirmation” for holders of firearms permits to ensure “that everything is in order there and that the mental instability of a person does not become a danger to the general public.”

Getty Images/Photo by Kola Sulaimon/AFP (file) Getty Images/Photo by Kola Sulaimon/AFP (file) Relatives of Leah Sharibu call for her release at an event in Abuja, Nigeria, in May 2019.

Not forgotten

The mother of 16-year-old Nigerian abductee Leah Sharibu stood with fellow Christians outside the Nigerian High Commission in London last week to pray for her child’s release on the second anniversary of her kidnapping.

“We don’t know where Leah is. We don’t know the condition or the situation Leah is in,” said Rebecca Sharibu, who delivered a petition with 12,132 signatures to the High Commission urging Nigerian authorities to follow up on the case.

Members of a Boko Haram faction kidnapped Leah and her schoolmates in February 2018 from a boarding school in the northeastern town of Dapchi. The insurgents released the other captives but kept Leah when she refused to renounce her Christian faith.

In Abuja, the Nigerian capital, several pastors and Christian organizations held a news conference to mark the anniversary. Paul Enenche, a Nigerian megachurch pastor, called for global attention on Leah and other victims of insurgency in the country: “This is a state of emergency in a calamitous way.” —O.O.

Associated Press/Photo by Hazem Ahmed (file) Associated Press/Photo by Hazem Ahmed (file) Rescued migrants sit next to a coast guard boat in Khoms, Libya, in October 2019.

Lost at sea

A small, inflatable boat packed with 91 migrants went missing this month in the Mediterranean Sea, according to the United Nations. The boat carrying nationals from Iran, Mali, Sudan, and Niger departed Feb. 8 from l-Qarbouli, Libya, about 30 miles east of Tripoli.

Alarm Phone, a crisis hotline for migrants stranded at sea, said it received a distress call from the vessel on Feb. 9. The agency alerted Italian and Maltese authorities, as well as the Libyan coast guard, which took five hours to respond. At that point, Alarm Phone had lost contact with the ship. The United Nations International Organization for Migration (IOM) said it could not match the missing boat to any recent sightings or rescues. “Tragically, the last hypothesis is that this could be another invisible shipwreck,” said Marta Sánchez, a project officer with IOM’s Missing Migrants Project.

IOM has recorded a rising number of so-called “ghost boats” in recent years. Last year, the agency counted seven vessels that disappeared carrying a total of 417 passengers—a fourfold increase from 2018. —O.O.

Associated Press/The Office of Prime Minister of Abiy Ahmed Associated Press/The Office of Prime Minister of Abiy Ahmed Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (right) receives a recovered bronze crown.

Stolen goods

The Netherlands has returned an 18th-century imperial crown to Ethiopia more than two decades after it was stolen.

Ethiopian national Sirak Asfaw, who sought asylum in the Netherlands in the 1970s, said he found the stolen crown in 1998 in the suitcase of a visitor. Asfaw said he worried the past government had a hand in the theft, so he protected the treasure. Last year, he alerted a historian and the Dutch police. The bronze crown, one of just 20 of its kind, depicts Jesus and His 12 apostles. —O.O.

Onize Ohikere

Onize is WORLD's Africa reporter. She is a World Journalism Institute graduate and earned a journalism degree from Minnesota State University-Moorhead. Onize resides in Abuja, Nigeria. Follow her on Twitter @onize_ohiks.

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  • Cyborg3's picture
    Posted: Thu, 02/27/2020 03:34 am

    A long time ago I posted a horrific post about the rape culture developing in Europe due to the Immigrants from the Middle East and Africa. These individuals are primarily Muslim young men who prey on the women of Europe. One of the videos showed a mass crowd of young men hauling off a screaming young woman to a underground subway or room to be gang raped! Her cries were horrifying and all the young men seemed to want to join in the "fun". My blood boiled when I saw this barbarism!

    In another case a young Muslim man raped a 90 year old woman going home from church. In another case, a young woman offered her home in good will to an immigrant and he returned the kindness by raping her. In another case, a German young woman was gang raped until she was dead by a massive crowd of young immigrants. The picture I saw was horrifying, where her body was left in the same position of how they raped her! My blood boiled as I read about it. Her father was a high official in Germany!  

    In another case, a husband and wife were going out and a gang of immigrants grabbed the man and the the others raped his wife in front of him. Again, my blood boils thinking of it. There are many other stories about the barbarism going on in Europe where the Gatestone Institute has reported on it.

    The sad part about all this is that the PC liberal culture of Europe tries to hide the problem by hiding the identity of the criminals because they don't want to be racist! Rather, they are causing the problem, where real men who want to protect their women are being led into racist groups because few others exist where they are addressing the issue. Really, the spineless liberal men are not doing anything to stop this problem so racial hatred quickly grows. Now I am a Christian who recognizes that racism is a sin, but if I wasn't Christian and I lived in Europe I understand why the real men would gravitate towards the racist groups! Injustice like this breads racism!