Germany faces ‘major challenges’ to stop far-right violence: Merkel

Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday said Germany must resist neo-Nazis 'without any taboos' following the killing of a local politician by a suspected right-wing extremist.

Germany faces 'major challenges' to stop far-right violence: Merkel
Merkel spoke at the Evangelical Church Day on Saturday. Photo: DPA

Such violence “must be resisted from the outset and without any taboos,” Merkel said during an address to the Protestant Church Congress in the western city of Dortmund.

“This is why the state is called upon (to act) at all levels and the federal government takes this very, very seriously,” said Merkel.

Her remarks came days after police arrested an alleged neo-Nazi for shooting dead Kassel city local politician Walter Lübke  — Merkel's fellow Christan Democrat — at his home in the western city on June 2nd.

SEE ALSO: Far-right motive suspected in German pro-migrant politician's murder

The 45-year-old killer has allegedly blamed his action on his anger at an influx of refugees and migrants to Germany.

Several other German politicians believed sympathetic to the migrant cause have been threatened, and that, coupled with the Lübke shooting, prompted Merkel to speak out.

“This is not just a terrible act but also a major challenge for us to examine on all fronts where there are extreme-right tendencies,” said Merkel.

Hours before her speech, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas had warned on Twitter that “Germany has a terrorism problem.

“We have more than 12,000 violent rightwing extremists in our country,” said Maas, lamenting that 450 of them were able to stay underground “even though they are the subject of an arrest warrant.”

Maas, a Social Democrat coalition partner of Merkel, said Germans had to call out extremist behaviour for what it is and said they must “not concede a millimetre to enemies of freedom.”

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer meanwhile warned of a “very dangerous development” and said the government would be looking at ways of placing restrictions on the far right.

“This killing moves me to do everything possible to reinforce security,” Seehofer, a member of the Christian Democrats' conservative partner the Christian Social Union, told the Funke media group in an interview.

One mooted restriction is curbing the right to express extremist views online and making them subject to legal action for “inciting hatred.”

SEE ALSO: Germany slams online hate posts about murdered pro-migrant politician

Seehofer said Berlin would assess how constitutionally it might take even tougher measures and deprive some people of their basic rights.

“Ours is the ministry in charged of questions touching on the constitution. We shall  seriously examine the possibilities,” Seehofer told Funke.

Peter Tauber, a Merkel ally and former CDU general secretary, urged that “enemies of the constitution” should be deprived of certain rights including to express their views publicly and to hold meetings.

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New army scandal: Germany vows to punish soldiers caught singing anti-Semitic songs

Germany's Defence Minister on Tuesday vowed to severely punish soldiers stationed in Lithuania who were accused of singing racist and anti-Semitic songs, if the allegations turned out to be true.

New army scandal: Germany vows to punish soldiers caught singing anti-Semitic songs
German soldiers training in Saxony-Anhalt in May. credit: dpa-Zentralbild | Klaus-Dietmar Gabbert

“Whatever happened is in no way acceptable,” said Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.

Those implicated would be “vigorously prosecuted and punished”, she added.

The Spiegel Online news site had on Monday reported that German soldiers in Lithuania sang racist and anti-Semitic songs during a party at a hotel in April.

One had also sought to sexually assault another soldier while he was asleep, a scene which was caught on film, said Spiegel.

According to Spiegel Online, the scenes took place at a party at which soldiers consumed large quantities of alcohol. They are also alleged to have arranged a “birthday table” for Adolf Hitler on April 20th and to have sung songs for him.

It is unclear to what extent more senior ranked soldiers were aware of the incidents.

Three soldiers have been removed from the contingent stationed in the Baltic country and an investigation is ongoing to identify other suspects, said the report.

The German armed forces have been repeatedly rocked by allegations of right-wing extremism within their ranks.

Kramp-Karrenbauer last year ordered the partial dissolution of the KSK commando force after revelations that some of its members harboured neo-Nazi sympathies.

SEE ALSO: Germany to compensate gay soldiers who faced discrimination