Germany woke up in shock on Thursday, February 20, when it learned that a double racist shooting had struck two shisha bars in Hanau (Hesse), a city of 90,000 inhabitants located some 20 kilometers away. east of Frankfurt, Wednesday evening. The toll is terrible: nine dead, and several injured, including at least one, Thursday morning, was between life and death. The federal prosecution, competent in terrorism cases, suspects “xenophobic motivation” and has taken up the investigation.
After the attacks, the investigators discovered a manifesto and a video in which the man suspected of being the terrorist evokes “people to be eliminated”. The suspect, Tobias R. was found dead at his home overnight alongside another lifeless body. According to the daily Bild, it would be his mother, 72 years old. The suspect was of German nationality and holds a hunting license.
The murderous team started around 10 p.m. Wednesday at Midnight, a shisha bar located in the center of Hanau. Five people were reportedly killed there, including several of Kurdish origin. The killer then drove to the residential district of Kesselstadt, two kilometers away, where he parked in front of another bar, the Arena. This time, at least four other people were reportedly killed. He then returned to his home, not far from there, where he was found dead.
Racism is a poison
A video recently published on YouTube – deleted from the social network Thursday morning – and attributed to the suspect, shows a man speaking in front of the camera in English to the Americans. He notably comments on the existence of “invisible secret organizations” which would try to establish “a modern slavery system” using “diabolical methods”.
Also Read>> After the double attack, Angela Merkel denounces the “poison” of racism in Germany
Referring to the existence of underground military bases in the United States in which children are allegedly ill-treated and even murdered, he calls on American citizens to join the resistance.
“Racism is a poison, hatred is a poison,” lambasted German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday. “There are many indications that the author acted on far-right, racist ideas, hatred against people of different origins, beliefs or appearances,” she added. “We oppose with strength and determination all those who are trying to divide Germany,” she said, insisting on “the rights and dignity of every person in our country”, without distinction “of origin. or religion ”.
This killing takes place in a particularly sensitive context in Germany, where the threat of far-right terrorism has never been more present in the news, eight months after the assassination of Walter Lubcke, the prefect of Cassel – a city not located far from Hanau -, by a neo-Nazi, and four months after the attack on the synagogue of Halle by a follower of “white supremacist”.
“It seems that the assassin deliberately targeted people of immigrant origin,” said Josef Schuster, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, regretted. After the series of murders of the NSU [neo-Nazi group behind the murders of nine immigrants and a policewoman in the 2000s], the far right is again causing bloodshed in Germany. (…) The very worrying question arises as to what extent minorities and those who work alongside them can still live in Germany ”.
Series of attacks prepared against mosques
The attack also comes five days after the arrest of twelve people suspected of planning a series of attacks, mainly against mosques, but also against politicians and asylum seekers. Members of a small group called Der Harte Kern (“The Core”), the suspects – including a police officer – had planned to broadcast live videos of their attacks, as did the Australian Brenton Tarrant when he opened fire on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, on March 15, 2019 (51 dead and 49 injured), and as also did German Stephan Balliet, the author of the attack on the synagogue from Halle.
Politically, the killing of Hanau puts the authorities in a very delicate situation. Earlier this week, after the dismantling of the tiny Core Core and the discovery of its plans to attack mosques, several officials from the Muslim community said that Muslims in Germany were feeling less and less secure. Referring to plans for attacks “of a dimension never seen before”, the secretary-general of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany had called for more police protection around the mosques.
Accused of neglecting the far-right terrorist threat for too long, the federal government recently made repeated announcements to show that it is now taking the issue very seriously. In December 2019, the Minister of the Interior, Horst Seehofer, announced the creation of 600 positions in the Federal Criminal Police Office and the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the internal intelligence service in Germany.
On Wednesday morning, a few hours before the Hanau massacre, the German government adopted a new law aimed at combating hatred and violence on the Internet more effectively. Complementing a law which came into force in 2018 and obliging the platform to delete, within 24 hours, content deemed hateful, the text adopted Wednesday in the Council of Ministers aims to facilitate the prosecution of their authors, the platforms are now obliged to report the contentious content – neo-Nazi propaganda, preparation for attacks, threats of murder, etc. – to the Federal Criminal Police Office. “ We have to stop the spiral of hatred and violence. Such crimes will end up where they should be: in court “, Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht said on Tuesday.