Angela Merkel castigated Thursday the “poison” of racism in Germany after the attacks that killed nine people in Hanau, near Frankfurt, linking this act to other far-right attacks committed in the country.
“Racism is a poison, hatred is a poison. And this poison exists in our society, from the acts of the NSU to the murder of Walter Lübcke and the assassinations of Halle, “ said the Chancellor, referring respectively to the series of murders and attacks of a neo-Nazi group in the 2000s, the murder last June of an elected pro-migrant, then the attack on a synagogue which left two dead in October. Merkel had earlier announced that she was canceling her planned trip to the Halle Academy of Sciences (Saxony-Anhalt) during the day.
“We oppose with force and determination all those who are trying to divide Germany,” she added, insisting on “the rights and dignity of each person in our country”, without distinction “of the origin or of religion ”. Acknowledging that it was “too early” to shed light on this crime, “there are many indications that the author acted on far-right, racist ideas, hatred against people of origin, belief or appearance different.“
On Wednesday evening, a man opened fire in two bars in Hanau, killing nine and injuring several. A crime probably “xenophobic” according to the federal prosecution, competent in terrorism cases, which seized the investigation. The suspect, Tobias R., was found dead Thursday morning at his home alongside another lifeless body. A manifesto and a video in which he talks about “peoples to be eliminated” were also discovered.
“The AfD is the political arm of far-right terrorism”
Political reactions had multiplied on the morning of Thursday. “I am horrified, upset and speechless,” said conservative Volker Bouffier, Minister-President (CDU) of Hesse, while the session scheduled for Thursday at the regional parliament in Wiesbaden was canceled. “What an atrocious crime! For too long we have been hesitant to call things by their name: far-right terrorism in Germany ” tweeted Social Democratic Party co-chair Saskia Esken.
European Commission President and former German Minister Ursula von der Leyen said she was “deeply shocked” by the shootings. The mayor of Hanau announced the holding of a vigil in tribute to the victims, Thursday late afternoon, as well as the availability of a register of condolences in front of the town hall. A rally is also planned in Berlin at the end of the day at the Brandenburg Gate.
Some officials clearly make the link between this violence and the climate maintained by the far-right AfD party. Like Social Democrat Michael Roth, Secretary of State for European Affairs:
“The milieu behind acts like those of Hanau is ideologically nourished by fascists like Björn Höcke [head of the AfD in Thuringia]. Hatred of democracy, racism, anti-Semitism, hatred against Gypsies and Islamophobia thrive on fertile land. For this, I maintain my position: the AfD is the political arm of far-right terrorism. “