"Words become deeds"
“Right-wing radicalism is a deadly threat”, says Timo Reinfrank of the Amadeu Antonio Foundation.
The Amadeu Antonio Foundation has been working against right-wing extremism for more than 20 years. It is named after one of the first victims of right-wing extremist violence in Germany following German reunification. According to the Foundation’s count, the death toll now comes to 200 victims.
Mr Reinfrank, what does the increase in deaths from right-wing violence mean for your work today?
Right-wing extremism is a deadly threat. Alone in 2019 it was the cause of three deaths, and ten people died in the Hanau attack in February 2020. Since at least 2015, we have seen a massive increase in the willingness of the extreme right-wing scene to use violence, which is no longer directed against only refugees or migrants but against all representatives of our democratic system. Right-wing extremists have declared war on democracy.
How does the Hanau attack change your view of the situation in Germany?
Hanau showed us once again the radicalisation brought about by extreme right-wing and racist ideas and where radical right-wing agitation leads: words become deeds. It also shows that we are increasingly dealing with the ideas of a globally networked white supremacy movement.
In 2015 the then Federal Minister of Justice Heiko Maas (now Foreign Minister) launched a task force to deal with online hate messages. The Amadeu Antonio Foundation took part. What role do social media play?
Digital space remains a catalyst for hatred and rabble rousing that ultimately lead to violence and attacks. The dynamics of social networks are underestimated. We have to do everything to ensure that a vocal minority no longer determines the climate there. With the draft law against right-wing extremism and hate crime, the Federal Government has launched various measures, including in the digital sphere.
Interview: Helen Sibum
International Week against Racism, 16-29 March 2020
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