A report of the German intelligence agency identifies over 30,000 right and left extremists in 2019. “Far-right extremism is our biggest security concern”, the Interior Minister says.
There has been a significant rise in the number of left and right-wing extremists in Germany last year, according to the annual report of the German intelligence agency for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV).
Interior Minister Horst Seehofer and the head of BfV, Thomas Haldenwan presented the report last week. German authorities had vowed to step up measures against extremism, following the attack on a synagogue in Halle and the fatal shooting of nine people in Hanau over the past year.
This is the first time that the BfV report includes around 7,000 members of the Germany's far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party's youth section, called "Flügel" or Wing.
According to German news website Deutsche Welle, The BfV had put the group under surveillance, and the faction officially disbanded afterwards, but the agency believes that around 7,000 people, who represent 20% of the AfD, still belong to the Wing.
The report shows that right-wing extremism in Germany sharply increased last year. The BfV estimates the number of right-wing extremists in the country in 2019 at 32,080, up from 24,100 the year before.
According to the agency, 13,000 of these cases are prepared to use violence, 300 more than in 2018.
Seehofer pointed out that “racism and anti-semitism emerge to a very considerable degree out of right-wing extremism. Over 90% of anti-semitic incidents can be traced back to far right-wing extremism”.
“It is not an exaggeration to say far-right extremism is the biggest security policy concern in our country”, the Interior Minister added.
Furthermore, the BfV also reported an increase in left-wing extremists, registering 33,500 extremists from the far-left spectrum in 2019, compared to 32,000 the year before.
The BfV explained that “characteristics of the left-wing extremist scene is its pronounced heterogeneity. The left-wing extremist scene can be divided into two camps, violent and non-violent left-wing extremists”.
It confirmed that there were 6,449 criminal acts motivated by left-wing extremism in 2019, up from 4,622 in 2018, a near 40% increase. Just over 900 of these crimes were considered violent.
Seehofer also reveals that “the danger of Islamic terrorism in Germany is still very high”. The BfV recorded 28,020 people in Germany with tendencies toward Islamic extremism, up from 26,560 in 2018, and identified nearly 650 cases of the threat of Islamic terror last year.
Despite these figures, attacks and planned attacks in Germany and Europe are declining overall, the report said.
Haldenwang underlined that the coronavirus crisis had pushed recent right-wing attacks in Germany out of the news cycle, but the security agency continued in its work preventing such events.
“We are talking about breaking a 'high score' of number of victims. We have to break this trend", he stressed, calling on the media “to resist putting too much focus on the perpetrators of terrorist attacks”.
German theologian Evi Rodemann told Evangelical Focus a few months ago that she was worried about the rise of the far-right, which “demonstrates a great discontent among all social classes”. According to her, “politicians and society need to come up with creative ideas on how to deal with globalization, a multi-cultural society, methods of integration, so that we will not be ruled by fear”.
The “growing polarisation in society” has much to do with the “loneliness in the cities”, she argued, as well as the “decline in our common value systems”.
According to Rodemann, the German churches “need wisdom on how to incorporate the Christian values and human dignity into the system. Christians need to get involved on all levels of society”.