While the AfD party emerges as a leading voice of political opposition, the government downplays its danger and even co-opts its xenophobic messaging.
German police rounded up a right-wing terror network this October 1, arresting its members ahead of an attack allegedly aimed at subverting the country. Called “Revolution Chemnitz,” the group “intended to launch violent and armed attacks against foreigners and people who have different political views,” a federal prosecutor told local media. The arrests drew attention once again to the district of Saxony, a base of the far-right Alternative for German (AfD) party where extremists staged a series of anti-migrant riots last month in the city of Chemnitz.
“We are the Nazis, you are the pigs!” a protester screamed during the extreme right demonstration in Chemnitz. Another proudly threw up a sieg heil salute during a live news broadcast. Thousands of far-right Germans and neo-Nazis mingled in riots in Chemnitz, in the East German state of Saxony. The gatherings were initially justified by the organizers, among them the AfD, as a supposedly commemorative response to the killing of a Cuban-German.
Daniel H. had been stabbed to death on August 26, 2018, allegedly by refugees of Arab ancestry. His killing inspired an especially ironic display of outrage: Having been confronted with racism as a person of color in Chemnitz, which is known to be a center of far-right activity, the very people who had called Daniel the n-word eventually seized on his death to engage in even more racism.
Far-right manifestations have become routine in Germany, and its influence has penetrated the mainstream political discourse, particularly since the AfD made it into the federal parliament following its historic success in the 2017 elections. The German government’s admission of refugees from the Middle East since 2015 has generally magnified racist tendencies among some of the country’s population. The former German Democratic Republic in the country’s east has been especially affected by an increase in xenophobic incidents.
Denijal Jegic is a postdoctoral scholar. He holds a PhD from the Institute for Transnational American Studies. Follow him on Twitter at @denijeg