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  • The nine victims all had minority backgrounds, including people with Kurdish origins and Turkish citizens.

    The nine victims all had minority backgrounds, including people with Kurdish origins and Turkish citizens. | Photo: Reuters

Published 21 February 2020

Berliners mourned the victims of the far-right attack in Hanau and chanted anti-fascist slogans.

Less than 24 hours after Wednesday's far-right attacks, on Thursday evening, over one thousand people took the streets of Berlin to express their sadness, anger, and solidarity with family and friends of the nine fatal victims of the event.

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Berliners chanted anti-fascist slogans, as they rallied in Neukolln, an area southeast of the capital and home to significant Turkish, Arab, and other German minority communities. The nine victims all had minority backgrounds, including people with Kurdish origins and Turkish citizens.

Authorities identified the criminal as Tobias Rathjen, a man with a "deeply racist mindset," who also killed his mother the same night before shooting himself.

Hanau, a commuter town close to Frankfurt nearly 600 kilometers (373 miles) southwest of Berlin, was thrown into a state of shock and mourning as authorities identified the perpetrator as Tobias Rathjen, 43, a man with a "deeply racist mindset". He killed his mother before shooting himself.

"Racism is a poison; hate is a poison. This poison exists in our society, and it's to blame for too many tragic events," German Chancellor Angela Merkel said about the events that shocked Hanau, a commuter town close to Frankfurt nearly 600 kilometers southwest of Berlin.

Gokay Sofuoglu, federal chairman of the Turkish Community in Germany, a prominent organization that works to promote the interests of the country's large Turkish community, called on authorities to do more to tackle the growing threat of far-right violence.

"The declared goal of right-wing extremist terrorists and their parliamentary arm, the AfD, is to destabilize our democracy and create civil war-like conditions," he expressed referring to the far-right Alternative for Germany party. He also commented that his organization called for a parliamentary committee of inquiry to deal with right-wing terrorism and racism.

In recent years, authorities in the capital have increasingly raided shisha bars in areas like Neukolln in attempts, they say, to crack down on organized criminal gangs. Opposition voices, including some local politicians, have criticized the frequency of the police raids, and say they stigmatize entire communities.

On Thursday the premier of the 70th Berlinale International Film Festival is expected. The organizers sent a message of solidarity via Twitter with the families and friends of the victims of the attack: "With great dismay, the Berlinale learned of the fatal attack in Hanau. Our deepest sympathy goes to the victims & their families. We stand for tolerance and hospitality. We oppose violence and racism".

The President of the EU Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, also expressed condolences for the victims via Twitter.

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