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Gov't to crack down on right wing after stabbing

Latest update : 2008-12-16

Germany vowed to fight back against far-right groups after a suspected neo-Nazi stabbed and seriously wounded a police chief on Saturday. The incident sparked demonstrations and calls for "a better life without Nazis" (picture).

AFP - The German government on Monday vowed to crack down on the far-right after a suspected neo-Nazi turned up at the home of a police chief and stabbed him on his doorstep, sparking nationwide outrage.
   
Saturday's attack, which left the officer seriously wounded, also fuelled fresh calls for the banning of a notorious far-right party.
   
Alois Mannichl, known for his strong stand against right-wing extremists in the southern city of Passau, was stabbed as he answered his doorbell at home.
   
The attacker used a knife left by the police chief on his doorstep for visitors to cut themselves a slice of Christmas season cake, prosecutor Helmut Walch said.
   
The 52-year-old suffered a serious chest wound, close to the heart, and was rushed to hospital for an emergency operation. He was later said to be in stable condition.
   
Two suspects were briefly detained overnight by police, but later released without charges, Walch said.
   
Government spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm said the attack appeared to mark a new level of violence by the far-right which Berlin would tackle head-on.
   
It "shows the serious challenge posed to our law-governed state," he said.
   
"The federal government will energetically fight back" against such "enemies of freedom," he added.
   
Federal police chief Joerg Ziercke told AFP that right-wing extremists have shown themselves increasingly violent towards police in recent years.
   
"That's a change compared to the situation two to three years ago," he added.
   
The Nazi-hunting Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Jerusalem demanded Germany take strong action against the far-right.
   
"The brazen stabbing of Passau police chief Mannichl, who refused to tolerate the racist activities of local neo-Nazis, should sound a very loud alarm for the German police and judicial authorities," it said in a statement.
   
According to Walch, the assailant reportedly told Mannichl: "Greetings from the national resistance," a term used by the neo-Nazi scene. "You're a leftist pig cop, and you will no longer hang around the graves of our comrades."
   
The comments appeared to refer to the funeral of a former neo-Nazi leader in the region, Friedhelm Busse, 79, who was buried this summer with a Nazi swastika flag, which is banned in Germany.
   
Police later reopened the tomb to remove the Nazi symbol.
   
Authorities have registered some 950 attacks by far-right extremists nationwide this year, including one killing.
   
The head of the federal parliament's home affairs' commission, Sebastian Edathy, said the attack showed the need to outlaw the neo-Nazi National Democratic Party (NPD), the most prominent of the legal right-wing extremist parties in Germany.
   
Banning the NPD "is absolutely necessary because it would help reduce the reach of the far-right for years to come," Edathy told the Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung.
   
In addition, "grievous bodily harm linked to far-right political motives should no longer be simply punished by suspended sentences," he added.
   
There has been no link established between the NPD and the Passau case.
   
But the NPD, a fringe group with only about 7,300 members, is the most radical of the extreme right parties in Germany with a platform which is openly anti-foreigner, racist and anti-Semitic.
   
It has no deputies in the Bundestag, Germany's lower house of parliament.
   
But it does hold seats in two regional parliaments, Saxony and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, both in depressed former communist east Germany.
   
The centre-left government of former chancellor Gerhard Schroeder attempted to ban the xenophobic party in 2002 but the country's highest tribunal rejected the bid as unconstitutional on technical grounds.
   
Attempts by mainstream politicians to stop the NPD from receiving state funding -- currently in line with the number of votes it receives in elections -- have been held up by fears the constitutional court might again strike down the move and give the far-right a public relations victory.
 

Date created : 2008-12-15

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