World Bulletin / News Desk
A dramatic increase in the number of attacks against asylum seekers in Germany in recent months has raised concerns that a new wave of racism and xenophobia could sweep the country.
Human rights organization ProAsyl said earlier this week that 47 attacks against asylum seekers were recorded in the first four months of the year, which indicated a dramatic increase in growing far-right populist sentiment in society.
Suspected neo-Nazis also set fire to a new refugee shelter in the eastern town of Troeglitz on April 4, almost three months after a similar attack against asylum homes in southeastern German town of Vorra.
German Social Democrat lawmaker Eva Hoegl warned the developments may lead to the return of early 1990s-style xenophobia.
“I am concerned that the atmosphere in Germany could be like early 90’s again,” Hoegl told local media, referring to dozens of xenophobic riots and arson attacks which took place in the country between 1991 and 1996 and claimed the lives of at least 18 asylum seekers and immigrants, and injured dozens more.
Far-right extremists carried out 162 attacks against asylum seekers and their houses in 2014, according to police records, almost three times higher than in 2012 when police recorded 24 attacks by far-right extremists against refugees and their shelters.
There were 58 such attacks in 2013.
Hajo Funke, a professor of political science and a far-right expert at Berlin's Free University, expressed grave concern over the increase in an interview with The Anadolu Agency on Friday.
He said: "I have similar concerns. There are similarities to the early 90’s."
"But there are also stark differences to that situation. The public and politicians are today more aware of the problems, of the challenges."
The latest arson attack against a refugee shelter in Troeglitz, a small town in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt, came after weeks-long protests organized by far-right demonstrators to block plans for housing about 40 asylum seekers in the town.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition government and opposition parties immediately condemned the attack and various public demonstrations were held in the town in favor of housing refugees.
But the implementation of the original plan to host refugees in May had to be postponed due to the amount of damage the refugee shelter has suffered at the hands of the arsonists and amid security concerns in the town.
Professor Funke said that the anti-refugee campaign and demonstrations conducted by the far-right National Democratic Party of Germany, or NPD, in Troeglitz and various other towns had played a major role in recent attacks.
He said it was important for the authorities in Troeglitz not to retreat from sheltering refugees.
Funke said: "I think first of all refugees have to be in a secure environment ... that’s the highest priority."
"Once the authorities of Troeglitz decided to invite the asylum seekers, they should not retreat. This is a test of the strength of our civil state, the rule of law."
"It’s a fight about decency, a fight about tolerance and mutual acknowledgement," he said.Last Mod: 11 Nisan 2015, 13:13