Racism in Germany is 'attack on democracy'

2015-08-31 19:04
Protesters demonstrate with a banner in Dresden, eastern Germany. (AP)

Protesters demonstrate with a banner in Dresden, eastern Germany. (AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Jena - Following dramatic scenes outside refugee homes in Germany, Wolfgang Frindte, an expert in right-wing extremism from the University of Jena, has told the police and justice system to get tougher on criminals.

Wolfgang Frindte is a social and communication psychologist at the University of Jena where he teaches and researches right-wing extremism. Most recently he released a collection of essays entitled Right-wing Extremism and the National Socialist Underground.

"We are currently experiencing an attack on our democracy," he said in an interview with dpa.

dpa: The migration debate seems to be getting out of hand in Germany. We've seen bomb and murder threats, houses being set alight and refugees on the receiving end of angry rants. What is going on?

Frindte: I ask myself the same thing and I find the development very worrying. What we knew 20 years ago is now coming to the surface - right-wing extremism is not merely a peripheral phenomenon. It affects broad sections of the population.

Right-wing extremists and right-wing populists are also realigning themselves. Since Pegida [an Islamophobic movement which started making gains in Germany late last year], people are openly showing their hate on the streets and online.

The radical right of yesterday are today and now standing shoulder to shoulder. This means that right-wing extremism is not only a problem among young people. It stretches across all age groups and education levels. We are currently experiencing an attack on our democracy.

dpa: So does that mean that Pegida and company have made racism socially acceptable?

Frindte: Racism and right-wing extremism were already socially acceptable beforehand, as studies have shown. Pegida successfully widened this scope for acceptance. People no longer show restraint in shouting aggressively at cameras and expressing their hatred of refugees. Comments that used to be uttered in the pub are now being yelled in town squares.

dpa: How many right-wing extremists are there in Germany?

Frindte: The scene has grown to about 15%, as studies have repeatedly shown. If you also take into account people who support violence against refugees while not actively taking part in it, this figure is as high as 30%. After all, previous anonymous studies don't tell us that much. If you look at websites, Facebook posts and blogs, there is enough proof that these people are not just your traditional radical right-wingers. We also need to include the everyday racists who accept this violence.

dpa: Chancellor Angela Merkel finally decided to visit Heidenau in Saxony [the scene of anti-migrant riots last week]. What do these flying visits contribute to the tense situation?

Frindte: They show advocacy and support for the refugees and their helpers. These visits don't get through to the right-wing extremists, as television coverage of the chancellor's visit has shown. But then I ask myself - why are we so tolerant towards intolerance?

dpa: What needs to happen in your view to defend against this "attack on democracy"?

Frindte: Democracy needs to put its guard up. On the one hand we are missing an orchestrated uprising of decent people. On the other hand, this is a job for the police and justice system.

The chancellor was attacked verbally during her visit in Saxony by demonstrators accusing her of treason against the fatherland. If I were to shout such things at my neighbour from across the garden fence, he would be within his rights to sue me for slander. Why didn't that happen right away in this case? We do not need tougher sentencing or new laws.

Police and the courts just need to apply the existing measures more strongly in order to fend off hate crimes. It concerns our freedom and those who have come to us for protection.

Read more on:    germany  |  migrants  |  racism

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.