Anti-lockdown protests boost Germany’s far-right, says security agency

demonstrator holds a German flag
A demonstrator holds a German flag near the Reichstag during a protest against the government's restrictions imposed over the coronavirus outbreak, in Berlin, Germany

The number of politically motivated crimes in Germany rose last year, as protests opposing government measures to curb the coronavirus pandemic gave a boost to the far-right, Germany’s domestic intelligence service said.

More than half of the 44,692 politically motivated crimes registered in 2020 were committed by far-right radicals, the agency said in its annual report published on Tuesday.

“Extremists and terrorists are not going into lockdown,” Thomas Haldenwang, head of the BfV domestic security agency, said at a news conference to present the report.

Germany is trying to stem a rise in violent far-right ideology. Far-right violent crimes, such as a shooting that killed nine migrants in the town of Hanau in February last year, rose by 10.6%, the report showed.

Protests against COVID-19 restrictions were influenced by right-wing radicals, the report said. “Right-wing extremists took up the coronavirus debate and almost exclusively addressed the government’s protective measures,” it added.

In August, protesters stormed the steps of the Reichstag parliament building, some of them waving far-right flags. The images went around the world and were condemned by leading German politicians.

Membership of a network of far-right groups that claim allegiance to the pre-war German Reich rose last year, through contact with anti-coronavirus restrictions protesters, it said.

The number of left-wing violent crimes also surged in 2020, with the majority targeting the police and security authorities, as well as far-right protesters at anti-coronavirus lockdown demonstrations.

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