Xenophobic and anti-Semitic hate crime rose by nearly 20% in Germany in 2018, according to the latest interior ministry data published Tuesday. In its report, the ministry listed 7 701 xenophobic criminal acts, a jump of 19.7% compared to 2017. Anti-Semitic offences totalled 1 799 after a similar increase.
Almost 90% of perpetrators had a right-wing extremist background; Interior Minister Horst Seehofer told a press conference.
Despite a post-war culture of repentance for the Nazi era and Holocaust, Germany has not bucked a European trend of increasing hate speech and attacks against Jews. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas expressed his concern at the Berlin launch of a European network called Combating Anti-Semitism through Education.
All over Europe, hatred of Jews and violence against minorities are now rampant, Maas said.
Historical awareness is the best shield against intolerance, racism and anti-Semitism, he said, urging efforts to close “gaps in knowledge.” The challenges had increased with the arrival of migrants who grew up with anti-Semitic stereotypes, he said, stressing however that anti-Semitism is “not an imported product.”
Maas urged tolerance toward all minorities, saying that “in a free and tolerant Europe, we must protect a woman with a headscarf from insults and assaults just as we must protect a man with a kippa.”
Felix Klein, Germany’s commissioner for Anti-Semitism said he was “extremely alarmed” by the sharp rise.
“Against the background of falling inhibitions and brutalisation of the social climate in Germany, I had expected an increase in anti-Semitic crimes in 2018. However, I consider the fact that the increase was so high to be extremely alarming,” Klein told German daily Welt.
Klein said Germany must now “mobilise all our forces in politics and civil society” to counter “this trend.”