Europe

Everyday racism is problem in Germany: Foreign minister

Heiko Maas pays tribute to victims of Hanau terror attack, says stronger efforts needed to address racism problem

Ayhan Şimşek   | 19.02.2021
Everyday racism is problem in Germany: Foreign minister

BERLIN

Racism has become part of everyday life in Germany, and combating it needs more active engagement from all members of the society, the country’s foreign minister said on Friday.

Heiko Maas paid tribute to the victims of far-right terror attack in the western town of Hanau last year in a statement he posted on Twitter, and called for stronger efforts to address the racism problem in Germany.

“Fatih, Ferhat, Gokhan, Hamza, Kaloyan, Mercedes, Nesar, Sedat, and Vili. Nine names. Nine people. They were torn from life a year ago in Hanau. Because racism has become part of everyday life in our county. Because [racism] destroys lives. Because [racism] kills,” he said.

The victims with immigrant backgrounds were killed by a German far-right extremist who attacked two cafes in Hanau on Feb. 19, 2020.

Maas said this attack did not come as a surprise, as the country witnessed growing racism and xenophobia in recent years, fueled by the propaganda of neo-Nazis and the far-right Alternative for Germany party.

“There are more than 33,000 right-wing extremists in Germany, 13,000 of whom are willing to use violence, and this trend is increasing,” he said, referring to the latest report of the BfV, the country’s domestic intelligence agency.

Maas also said many immigrants were still facing discrimination in everyday life, at work, at schools, or in connection with public institutions and authorities.

The Social Democrat politician underlined the government’s determination to combat all forms of discrimination, racism, and right-wing extremism with a range of concrete measures.

"Let’s get to the bottom of structural racism and banish it from our midst! The study on extremism, anti-Semitism and racism in the police adopted by the Federal Government is at best only a first step here," he said.

Since 1989, at least 184 people have been killed in Germany by far-right extremists and neo-Nazi groups, with more than 50 victims being members of the Turkish community.

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