Weeks after a local politician died in what authorities described as an “execution,” the German interior minister said far-right extremists were spreading across the country, and warned that they as dangerous as Islamist groups.
Ultra-right extremists are on equal footing with Islamist radicals and other violent groups, Horst Seehofer told German media. The far-right “have become a real threat for our society,” which means that the government should hit back and “do everything to ramp up security.”
Seehofer, a longtime ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel, was speaking roughly three weeks after Walter Luebcke, a mid-level government official, died of a gunshot wound at his home in the eastern city of Kassel.
Shortly afterwards, police had arrested a 45-year-old suspect who had committed numerous offences in past decades, including an assault on a hostel for asylum seekers back in 1993.
Luebcke’s case turned out to have a political aspect as he, though being a member of the conservative Christian Democrats, held strong pro-immigration views and once said that refugee haters are free to leave Germany. Unsurprisingly, he stumbled upon a massive backlash by far-right haters on the internet.
The murder sent shockwaves across German elites and the country’s society with top-tier politicians warning of a resurgence of the neo-Nazi scene. “We must finally name right-wing terrorism as such,” Foreign Minister Heiko Maas also said on Saturday.
“Far too often there have been talks of ‘isolated cases’ or ‘rampages’ when it comes to right-wing attacks,” he stated.
Burkhard Jung, Leipzig mayor and president of Germany’s Cities Association, said the attack on Luebcke wasn’t just an ordinary crime. “The murder or indeed the execution of Walter Luebcke must be cause for nationwide discussion,” he told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper.