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Political Violence and Xenophobia in Germany

November 15, 2011

The suspected perpetrators of the murder of nine immigrant workers in Germany have been arrested in Zwickau, Germany. Four people have been arrested in connection to the murders. The suspects appear to have been a part of the National Socialist Underground. One member set her apartment ablaze in an attempt to destroy evidence. A video was found at the apartment which appears to be a rather odd piece of propaganda starring the Pink Panther cartoon. The video references the “doner killings” and a nail bomb attack of a Turkish neighborhood in Cologne. These events are shocking to the German public but only show the symptom of a far larger problem in Europe today.

Germany, where far-right political organizations have the least freedom out of all Western European countries has supposedly allowed for a violent cell to be active for over a decade. This has led many to call for the outlaw of far-right political organizations, notably the NDP (National Democratic Party). The outrage from the media and bureaucrats in Germany is expected and shows a direct lack of understanding of identity in Europe as whole. It is quite possible that outlawing any sort of political representation could make the problem only worse. Political marginalization could lead to more violence as it would be their only way of expressing themselves in a free society. Germany is showing a hesitance to accept some calculated risks that come with living in a free society as well as a lack of faith in their own legal and cultural institutions to administer justice and condemn such behavior.

Those in support of the outlaw of far-right political parties overestimate the power of demonstrations and political organization in Europe.  What they are paying less attention to is the internet, which was a source of inspiration for the  uber violent and xenophobic Anders Breivik, who is accused of killing 77 people. The internet will be a very difficult medium to regulate and can still play a strong role in the organization of like-minded people in extreme ideologies.

With the current economic situation in Europe, xenophobia is likely to rise in most if not all European countries. Does Germany have the institutional clout to prevent this rise spreading into the mainstream? They have two choices, engaging dialogue in an attempt to pacify and include all Germans in the political process and run the risk of giving more credibility to ideas that may go against current German mores; or outlawing far-right organizations all together and run the risk of seeing even more violence.

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