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  • Right wing protestors attack police officers at the Alexanderplatz, Berlin, Germany, May 9, 2020.

    Right wing protestors attack police officers at the Alexanderplatz, Berlin, Germany, May 9, 2020. | Photo: EFE

Published 12 May 2020
Opinion

The anti-lockdown rallies could provide fertile ground for the radicalization of neo-nazi groups.

Germany’s Julius Gumbel Research Center (EJGF) Director Gideon Botsch Tuesday warned that far-right groups are benefiting from the potential radicalization of protests against confinement and physical distancing measures.

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"While the mobilization effect goes far beyond the far-right's world, the Alternative for Germany party (AfD) is a major promoter of radical protests," Botsch said.

"The warming dynamic has been very rapid. In just three weeks, they have gone from threats and aggressive behavior to the first violent acts. This raises fears of further radicalization outbreaks," he added.

Although it is not possible to put "in the same bag" all the protests against the COVID-19-related measures, the EJGF director identified a common element in the mobilizations that the far-right has been promoting since 2015, namely the resistance against an alleged German authorities' hidden "plan" to control the population.

Botsch also warned that old stereotypes and conspiracy theories are encouraged. This could be seen at a demonstration in Brandenburg in which the far-right argued that the COVID-19 was created by the Rothschild family and a secret elite which "has been lying to us and controlling us for centuries."

The Association of Counseling Centers for Victims of Right-wing Violence (VBRG) Director Judith Porath mentioned that the coronavirus crisis is "normalizing" racism in public discourse in her country.

Since the start of the pandemic, the media have reported many cases in which Asian citizens have been threatened or attacked by individuals who blamed them for spreading the virus.

In recent months, the feeling of lack of protection expressed by victims of extreme right-wing attacks has been increasing. In this regard, she recalled the attack in Hanau city, where a far-right activist murdered nine migrants on Feb. 19.

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