Tens of thousands of people took part in vigils and protests on Thursday evening across Germany. They came after a far right terrorist killed nine people from migrant backgrounds at a shisha bar and a cafe in the city of Hanau.
The suspect, Tobias Rathjen, was later found dead at his home along with his mother who he had also murdered.
Hundreds of people assembled in silence in Hanau to show solidarity with the victims.
Large crowds also gathered in Frankfurt, at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, some carrying signs that read “Take racism personally” or “Never again” and others chanting “Nazis Out”.
Thousands gathered in Berlin's multicultural district of Neukolln.
Protests took place in around 45 other cities.
In a document published online before the massacre, Rathjen called for the “complete extermination” of many “races or cultures in our midst” and peddled antisemitic theories.
He asked whether the “total destruction” of entire states in a future war might be legitimate.
He listed over 25 countries whose populations he wanted wiped out, including half of Asia, various peoples in North Africa, and Israel.
Even if the perpetrator from Hanau acted alone, it was not simply the act of a single person.It is embedded in social conditions in which Nazis and fascists feel able to carry out the actions that some far right AfD leaders call for.
In the past few months, hardly a week has passed without new revelations about right wing terrorist networks.
Just last Friday, police arrested 12 members of a suspected right wing terrorist cell, including a police officer.Large-scale attacks on mosques were apparently planned.
Right wing terrorists have killed at least 229 people in Germany since the 1970s.They also carried out 123 explosive attacks, 2,173 arson attacks, 12 kidnappings and 174 armed robberies.
With the rise of the AfD, for the first time since 1945 a neo-fascist force, at least in part, was able to establish itself as a firm fixture in German politics.
The Labour-type SPD politician and Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office Michael Roth rightly describes the AfD as a “political arm of right-wing terrorism”.
On the evening of the election in 2017 when the AfD entered the national parliament, AfD boss Jorg Meuthen said, “Modesty in the disposal of people is inappropriate”.
Hardly a week has passed without new revelations about right wing terrorist networks.
At the same time, the AfD is not the only force fueling racism.In recent years, politicians from all established parties, as well as a large part of the media, have been involved in creating racist images of people seen as enemies.
The focus is against Islam by associating religion with negative keywords such as terrorism, women’s oppression, homophobia or antisemitism.
The right wing scene in Germany can build on the racism of the bourgeois “middle”, radicalise it and thus pull social discourse ever further to the right.Encouraged by their agitation, Nazis and racists across the country feel called to act on words.
It is also no coincidence that the perpetrator chose Hanau shisha bars as the target.The criminalisation and defamation of shisha bars as a breeding ground for “clan crime” is part of the racist incitement used against Muslims and people with a migrant background. They have been under increasing attack for months.
Not only AfDers, but also politicians from the ruling conservative parties and the SPD repeatedly participated in spreading racist prejudice and raided shisha bars under the pretext of combating organised crime.They also created the mood for the radical right wing terror of Hanau.
The extent of racism in the debate about shisha bars was also demonstrated by the reaction to the terrorist attack in Hanau. Numerous media reported on a “shootout” and even openly suggested that there was a conflict between “clans” or criminal gangs.
The state apparatus is unsuitable to combat racism and Nazi terror. It is part of the problem.Numerous scandals in recent years show how much the police, army, secret services and judiciary are permeated by right wing radical structures and neo-Nazis.
The state organs are much more involved in the persecution of anti-fascists than in the fight against Nazis.
The same applies to the demands for the dissolution or prohibition of neo-fascist associations or parties.The previous experience with prohibitions shows political beliefs cannot be prohibited.
In the 1920s attempts were made to weaken the emerging National Socialist movement by bans. Even the party newspaper was banned.It didn't stop the rise of the Nazis.
The determined fight against racism and fascism is now the order of the day.We need broad anti-racist and anti-fascist mass protests and resistance.
We can make it clear that everyone who cooperates with the AfD is helping the rise of the new Nazis and thus jointly responsible for right-wing terror.
On to the streets against racism and right-wing terror.