Internet platform for studying Xenophobia, Radicalism and Problems of Intercultural communication.

Radical Political Parties and Groups

Radical Political Parties and Groups A demonstration organized by the anti-migrant movement PEGIDA in Dresden, January 2015.

Radical parties and groups are the catalyst for xenophobic attitudes in society, capable of directing them into the mainstream turning into protest activity up to violent hate crimes. They can exist only in conditions of imposing various fears over "foreign influence" and the threat to national identity.

Recent poll by ARD Deutschlandtrend Voter revealed that support for Merkel’s government dropped from 57 percent in July 2015 to 38 percent on February 2016. According to Emnid survey the popular support for the euro-sceptic Alternative for Germany have surged from 1 percent to 10 percent.

An opinion poll by German newsmagazine Stern also illustratesgrowing support for parties and movements tapping into voter fears that mainstream politicians are too soft on immigration. The AfD party, which is closely affiliated to PEGIDA is viewed as a positive development in Germany by half of the public. Twenty-nine percent of people thought the marches by the group PEGIDA were justified because of the degree of influence that Islam was having on life in Germany. The poll found that 71 percent of AfD supporters felt the rallies were justified. While two thirds of those polled believed the idea of an 'Islamization' of Germany was exaggerated, many Germans are concerned about the numbers of asylum seekers fleeing countries such as Syria. Furthermore, it was found that one in eight Germans would join a march against "Islamization" if one were held in their hometown. About two thirds of Germans asked by the polling group Forsa felt that the threat that "Islamization" posed within Germany was being exaggerated by PEGIDA.

The National Democratic Party of Germany (Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands, NPD), is a far-right electoral party in Germany. NPD, which descended from the German Reich Party (Deutsche Reichspartei, DRP), was founded in 1964. In January 2011, it merged with the nationalist German People’s Union (Deutsche Volksunion). In 2014, the party representative Udo Voigt won a seat in the European Parliament. The NPD currently has five seats in the northern federal state of Mecklenburg West Pomerania – and is entitled to campaign subsidies from the federal government. The attempts to ban the party, which is infamous for neo-Nazi violence and National Socialist ideology, has been under way for years. The latest ban attempt was triggered by the arson attack against a planned refugee house in Tröglitz in April 2015.

PEGIDA formed branches in various European countries. 29% of Germans believe that marches and other mass actions conducted by PEGIDA are absolutely justified because Islam has a significant impact on life in the country, and the government fails to adequately react to it. On July 7, 2015, Deutsche Welle reported on the intentions of this organisation to create a political party on the eve of the general elections in 2017. However, with the growing influence of the AfG party, this organization practically lost its supporters, and turned into a marginal right-wing radical organization.

Residents of East Germany support right-wing radicals more than residents of West Germany. This is confirmed by a research commissioned by the Saxony land government, submitted in November 2017. 56% of respondents agreed with the thesis that "because of the arrival of many foreigners, Germany is exposed to someone else's influence in a dangerous amount." This is 2% less than in 2016. At the same time, the number of refugees arriving in Saxony has decreased many times. 62% (-7%) said that "the majority of Muslims living in Germany do not recognize our values." 38% demanded a ban on the entry of Muslims into Germany (-1%). Significantly increased support for the statement "Our country today needs a strong and active promotion of German interests in relation to foreign countries" (62%, + 9%). 68% of respondents believe that Germany now needs a "strong hand" (+ 6%). 41% support the words "Now Germany needs ONE strong party that expresses the interests of the commonality of the whole people (-21%, which researchers explain by the appearance of the word "ONE"). [1]

In 2017 the parliamentary elections had been in Germany. The main event of the year, the elections to the German Bundestag, dominated in the public life of the country. For the second time in the history of united Germany, a right-populist party took part in the pre-election race, which had real chances to overcome the five percent barrier. In the elections, the Alternative for Germany (AfG) - Alternative für Deutschland - confidently went to the German parliament, gaining the support of 12.6% of voters, and created the third largest faction (94 deputies) in the new, 19th Bundestag.

The situation in the legislative branch of the German power became fundamentally different. AfG, which includes both populist and right-wing radical movements, received a parliamentary rostrum and new opportunities for influence in domestic and foreign policy. Also, the "Alternative" in 2017 further expanded its representation in the Landtads of Germany, although its success was not so impressive as in 2016.

Politicians from AfG entered the land parliaments of two large, economically and politically significant lands, Lower Saxony and North Rhein-Westphalia, as well as the Schleswig-Holstein Landtag. Thus, following the results of 2017, the right-wing AfG party was represented both in the European Parliament (the result of 2014 in Germany: 7.1%) in the Bundestag, and in 14 of the 16 Landtags. AdG finally became part of the German political establishment and the main right-wing party of the country.

AfG conducted an active and aggressive campaign in the elections to the Bundestag. The theme of the reception of refugees, their "propensity to commit offenses", "loss of German identity", "inability" of the incumbent government and the political class to "defend Germany" remained the central. The party leadership tried to win the trust of minorities. In particular, the platform "Homosexuals in AdG" and "Russian Germans for AfG" worked within the party. Particular attention was paid to Russian-speaking voters, as well as to German citizens born in Poland and the countries of the former Yugoslavia.

Immediately after the passage to the Bundestag, the party was on the verge of schism. The party chairman and newly elected deputy Frauke Petri announced her withdrawal from AfG. The party was also abandoned by her husband Marcus Pretzel, a member of the European Parliament and the chairman of the Alternative in North Rhein-Westphalia. This decision was made by Petrie's trustees in various regions of the country. Former party members Petri very willingly commented on the reasons for the emergence of a group oriented on her from the ranks of the party. Sven Simon, the vice-chairman of the party in Saxony, explained his resignation: "The direction in which AfG develops inspires me. I'm not sure if I am now in the party which I joined in due time. " His colleague and the functionary of the youth organization Ralph Nalob was no less frank. It was important for him to prevent AfG drifting towards the "border of the political spectrum," but "this goal was not achieved."[2] Nalob clarified the direction of "drift", but it is clear that this is about right-wing extremism.

Opponents of Petri inside the "Alternatives" did not hide their joy, stating the "inevitability" of the departure of the former boss and her "inability to work in a team." Almost immediately after Petrie's resignation, the AfG faction split up in the Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania Landtag. Supporters of the disgraced leader registered a new faction, "Citizens for Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania." Many analysts predicted the domino effect and the collapse of AfG structures at all levels. However, this did not happen. The overwhelming majority of functionaries, including the Petri group in the AfG faction in the Bundestag, and ordinary activists remained in the Party.

In general, AdG is not under surveillance as a right-wing extremist party, but some of its activists and trends became the subjects of professional interest to the Office for the Protection of the Constitution. In February, the special services of Saxony announced the observation of some members of AfG. [3] In June, "right-wing extremist positions" were noted in the intra-party "Patriotic Platform". In August, it became known that under the supervision of the special services is the chairman of AfG Bavaria Peter Bystron. [4]

By the end of 2017 the rating of AfG has not changed. In the middle of December, it fluctuated between 12% and 13%. [5]

The remaining right-populist and right-wing radical parties continued their electoral fall in 2017. The "traditional" right-wing extremist party of the NPD (National Democratic Party, Nationaldemokratische Partei, NPD), called neo-Nazi in a number of media, or close to neo-Nazism, performed extremely unsuccessfully at federal elections. In 2017 another judicial attempt to ban the activities of the NPD was completed. The party was not banned because of its "insignificance", although the judges of the Federal Constitutional Court found in its program contradictions with the Basic Law of Germany. Another right-wing radical party, the "Civil Movement for Germany" (Bürgerbewegung Pro Deutschland), was officially dissolved in November 2017.

Among the right-wing and nationalist political movements in 2017, as in the previous year 2016, the political Movement "Identity" (Identitäre Bewegung, Identitäre) was distinguished. Its German branch is under the supervision of special services and is part of the European network of ultra-rights, opposing migration and "the loss of the traditional identity of Europe." Unlike the above-mentioned "classic" right-wing extremist parties, "Identical" conduct creative performances in the center of megacities in order to draw attention to their slogans.

As for the new right-wing radical parties and organizations, we should highlight some of them. First of all, they are the "Third Way" party, whose name and symbols remind us of the "Third Reich," and the "Rightists. "The Third Way was created in 2013 by former functionaries of the NDPG, who considered the course of their party too "conciliatory. This party had 580 members in 2019. Third Way activists take part in demonstrations against migration and refugee reception. In 2020, they are visible at rallies against quarantine restrictions caused by the pandemic. The party has tried to hold its own socially significant actions, such as applying in 2018 and 2019 to hold a sports tournament in Erfurt called "Jugend im Sturm," an association with the word "Volkssturm" of the Nazi period. The applications were rejected by the city administration. "The Right was founded in 2012. The full name of the party is "The Right - for popular referendums, sovereignty, and defense of the homeland." It was founded by several well-known West German neo-Nazi loners, as well as former members of the National Resistance Dortmund, which was banned in 2012. While in 2014-2016 the party managed to hold some actions, a year later it already had to struggle for survival, due to conflicts in the leadership and insufficient financial means. Since 2019. "The Right" has become more active. In the 2019 European Parliament elections, they supported Ursula Haverbeck, a well-known neo-Nazi activist who had served a prison sentence for repeated Holocaust denial. On April 20, 2019, Hitler's birthday, the party held a neo-Nazi rally with like-minded people from France, the Czech Republic, Poland, and other countries. In 2020. "The Right" organized a "national solidarity action" in Dortmund against measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus. A number of planned marches were banned as neo-Nazi. The party had an estimated 600 members in 2018. Almost all of them live in the Ruhr region. Party cells in the rest of Germany either exist only on paper or have already been officially dissolved.

There are also numerous "associations" of lone neo-Nazi members. Most of the "comradeships" (associated with the word "camerade," informal soldier's dress code in the Wehrmacht) were dismantled by the police in the mid-2010s. Although experts estimate that these structures are no longer sufficiently combat-ready to carry out terrorist attacks, it cannot be said that the right-wing extremist underground in Germany has been completely defeated. The following examples can be cited to prove this point. In 2019-2020, there were a number of scandals in the Bundeswehr in connection with soldiers' and officers' affiliation with right-wing radical circles. In November 2020, the prosecutor's office brought charges against 12 members of the so-called "Group S" arrested in February of this year. The structure was organized along the lines of the Finnish far-right "Self-Defense," which was close to the principle of "comradeship." Right-wing radicals planned to attack politicians, anti-fascist activists and mosques in order to destabilize the situation in the country and were raising funds to purchase weapons. In early December 2020, it became known that the neo-Nazi group Sturmbrigade 44 had been banned. It consisted of 11 people, two of whom were already serving sentences for other crimes. The group used a wide range of Nazi symbols. The two "fours" in the name correspond to the fourth letters of the alphabet and the first letters of the Dirlewanger Division, the revered right-wing extremist commander of the SS unit Oskar Dirlewanger. Edged weapons were found in the apartments of the group members. Groups whose members profess right-wing radical ideology also continue to operate on the Internet. In the social network Facebook such groups are temporarily closed after complaints from users, but they often reappear under a slightly modified name. Virtual communities on other platforms are even more difficult to identify. The aforementioned "S-group" also originally emerged in the form of a Whatsapp group. A face-to-face meeting took place much later. Nevertheless, the main danger is posed by radical loners. Both of the major right-wing terrorist attacks with fatalities that took place in the period under review were carried out by lone extremists. Also banned in 2020 were two other neo-Nazi groups, organized along slightly different lines than the "comradeships," but with the same ideology: the aforementioned "Combat 18" and the "Northern Eagle".

There is also the so-called "New Right. This "umbrella" term refers to extremely heterogeneous groups, associations, NGOs, publications, media, online and offline discussion platforms that attempt to position themselves between conservatives and the ultra-right. Some examples: the House of Conservatism. "Institute for Public Policy," "German Academy," "German-European Scientific Society," publishers Grabert and Berg, and others. In this milieu, the tendencies of "folk nationalism" (raising German national consciousness without parallels with Nazism, denial of anti-Semitism and racial theories, at least verbal, but with a share of historical revisionism) are strong. Calls for a "Conservative Revolution," i.e. an intellectual revision of the role of conservatives in society toward a more right-wing position, to win the sympathy of German residents without the use of violence, through cultural influence, are popular. "The New Right does not have a common political platform. In the circles of right-wing researchers in Germany there is a dispute as to whether the movement belongs to a new, "intellectual" format of right-wing extremism as applied to the current era or is a separate phenomenon. Some structures of the "new right," such as the Werner Schimanneck publishing house, have shifted over time to a racist stance close to neo-Nazism. They are monitored by the security services or banned.

The number of dangerous right-wing radicals prone to violence increased in 2020 compared to 2019: over 100 vs. 65. The total number of German residents "involved in the right-wing extremist spectrum" was 32,000 in June 2020. 32,000 (2019: 24,000).

As for the Islamists, according to the data of the German special services, in July 2017 the number of Salafists in Germany reached 10,300 people. The newspaper "Die Welt" notes that the Salafist environment is "a fertile ground for terrorism." In total, about 24,000 people in the Federal Republic of Germany are considered Islamists. 1,800 of them are considered to be "Islamist-terrorist environment". More than 700 are potentially dangerous. [6] Under supervision of special services there are more than 90 mosques. [7]

An increase in the number of Salafists and supporters of other radical Islamic movements is noted not only in the country as a whole, but also in some federal lands. The Bavarian department for the protection of the Constitution in its report for 2017, noted the "growth of threats", provided information on 730 Salafists living in this federal land. 70 Islamists went to Iraq and Syria. 26 of them returned to Germany. [8]

In connection with the increased activity of Islamists in German society there were accusations against Iran. The Federal Government's response to the request of the Greens faction in the Bundestag outlines the facts supporting Tehran's radicalization of Shiite communities in the territory of Germany, in particular the Islamic Center of Hamburg (IZH). The politician from the "Greens" Volker Beck demanded to apply measures and prevent the "Iranian regime" from spreading the "misanthropic ideology" among Shiites living in Germany. [9]

If we talk about specific Islamist organizations, we can name the following:

  • "The Muslim Brotherhood". This is the oldest Sunni Islamist network, which has existed in Germany since 1994. The network is largely legalized through registered NGOs. The group's goal is the widespread application of Sharia law as the only acceptable system of ethical, moral, legal and religious norms. The group's members are particularly tough on those violations of their value system that are not "criminal" in terms of German law: alcohol consumption, adultery and renunciation of Islam. A number of mosques and Islamic centers in Germany, such as those in Aachen and Munich, are either closely affiliated with the Brothers or are under their control. "The Brothers also influence the Central Council of Muslims of Germany, the largest representation of Muslim interests in contacts with government agencies, and are part of the network's international structures. As part of the network, there is an officially registered NGO, the Muslim Youth of Germany.
  • Salafists are also among the Islamist groups with a growing number of members and influence. The main centers for the spread of Salafism in Germany are North Rhine-Westphalia, Berlin and the Rhine-Main region. Salafism developed in particular during the 2000s. Its proponents deny German and, in general, Western law, arguing that the only book on the basis of which the legitimacy of human actions can be assessed is the Koran. They rely on direct contact with those being recruited. This takes place in mosques, cultural centers, schools, among relatives and even in prisons. The Salafists are virtually the only Islamist network in Germany that organizes street events to attract new members: handing out copies of the Koran, pamphlets, and talking to passersby for free. Experts note that Salafists professionally work with young people. Several techniques are used: the propensity of young people to protest subculture, dissatisfaction with social and material situation, political aspects (allegedly a priori racist attitude towards Muslims in the West, which "cannot be changed"), the role of Israel, wars "incited" by the West in the Middle East.
  • "The Islamic Community of Milli-Gerus" tries to work in a legal public space. The organization has a website in German, where Milli-Gerus tries to present itself as an advocate of traditional peaceful Islam and disassociates itself from radicals. The organization has been in existence since 1995 and has 120,000 members (2020). It has working associations of women and young women, which emphasizes the tolerance of Islam. Specialists believe that the organization is not radical in general, but that it includes groups that are prone to Islamism and extremism. "Milli-Gerus" is supported by the Turkish government and has extensive ties within the Turkish political and religious elite.
  • "Hizbollah was banned in Germany in March 2020, following a series of searches in the apartments and offices of activists in various German cities. "Hizbollah does not recognize Israel's right to exist as a state and sees the only solution to the Middle East conflict as an armed struggle. European states, unlike the United States, Canada and Australia, where the ban has long been in place, were unwilling to take such measures in order not to miss the opportunity for a peaceful settlement in Lebanon. There was also a distinction between the more radical international network and the less radical branch in Germany, which often distanced itself from the position of Lebanese Hezbollah. However, Hizbollah's systematic participation in the anti-Semitic Al-Quds Day in Berlin, which included open calls for violence against Jews (particularly acute in 2019), forced Germany to make this decision.
  • Supporters of the Islamic State (IS) are the most difficult Islamists to control. Unlike other organizations, they do not even have formal official representations in Germany, working in the legal public sphere. IS cells are completely underground. Their networks, interconnections and structures are extremely confusing. While Islamists, such as the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists, are integrated into organizations, their individual representatives at various stages can be more or less radical and violent, IS supporters are loners or individuals who are members of small cells. State agencies apply particularly harsh measures against IS activists: a ban on leaving the country, confiscation of foreign passports (for German citizens), restrictions on the validity of internal passports only in the territory of Germany (to prevent travel within the EU and to several other countries that can be visited without a foreign passport) and other sanctions.
  • "The Furkan Community" was founded in Germany in 1994. The most active branches are located in Dortmund, Berlin, Munich and Hamburg. It has its own print edition, online TV channel and websites. Furkan's ideology is similar to that of other Islamist groups, but it is more specific than "only" adherence to the Quran and Shariah, and targets Muslims living in Western states. It focuses on the personality of the radical preacher Alparslan Kuytuls. Main theses: Western civilization is inherently hostile to Muslim civilization. The only way is a Muslim revival.
  • Tablighi Jamaat is the largest Islamic network in the world (80 million people), founded in India and spreading in Asia, the Middle East and partially in Europe, mainly in the UK. The community has been deemed extremist and banned in several countries, such as Russia. "The Tablighi have had their individual representatives in West Germany since the 1960s, but the structures as such emerged in the 2000s. Activists had cells in Berlin, Hannover, Hamburg, Cologne, Munich and Bochum. Experts noted that even today the group's networks in Germany are quite unstable and cannot be called a unified body. "Tablighi is an extreme conservative form of Islam, according to which the only righteous way of life for a Muslim is to observe the precepts of the Koran as closely as possible, which includes dress, food, behavior, rejection of democracy and everything "Western", minimal contact with non-Muslims and other rules. The goal is "the return of true Islam," the Ummah. Formally, the Tablighi claim to be apolitical and are not noted in terrorist activities, but they continue to appear in intelligence reports, both because of their radical worldview and because of their active recruitment of supporters, mostly young Muslim residents of Germany from disadvantaged families and poor social strata of society.

In the statistics of radicals of any direction, the German special services separately consider carriers of ideology as such and potentially dangerous individuals prone to terrorist activity or other violent actions. This also applies to Islamists. As of July 2020, there were 610 dangerous Islamists on the territory of the Federal Republic of Germany, 510 of them according to the classification of the BKA as "high risk. This is 10% less than in 2019 (702). Of the 610, 110 are in German prisons, 50 in foreign prisons. Interestingly, a survey by SWR TV among representatives of special services specializing in combating Islamist radicalism showed that law enforcement officials consider "legal Islamists," i.e. members of officially registered organizations, more dangerous than supporters of the "Islamic State" in the long run. The reason is the attempts to penetrate into various strata of society and even into politics in order to take root in them and gradually expand their influence. An analysis of the situation at various levels of government shows the legitimacy of the fears of the staff of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution.

Most experts note that it is impossible to single out any part of the Muslim diaspora in Germany that is the most "susceptible" to Islamism. The new activists of Islamist movements are recruited among the natives of various states, members of various mosques, and representatives of various streams of Islam. Nor can it be argued that "adherence" to radicalism depends on how long one has been in Germany. On the one hand, the arrival of new migrants and refugees after 2015, especially from Syria with its significant secular traditions, led to a softening of radicalism within communities, while quite a few second and even third generation migrants already born in Germany are inclined to express such views. On the other hand, there have been counter-examples: new members of "established" communities, far from radical positions, have joined in an attempt to change the climate within the community toward confrontation with the world around them. The Office for the Protection of the Constitution released data on the total number of people involved in Islamist circles in 2019: 28,020 (2018: 26,560, +5.5%).

As for the left-wing tendencies, they have different political positions and never present a "united front. A certain common foundation can be considered radical anti-fascism. Otherwise, the theoretical postulates (from Marxism, historical materialism and Trotskyism to anarchism and modern left-wing ideas about a new world order), the program of action, the attitude to the state and the authorities are extremely different. Left-radical groups include:

1. Non-violent.

  • Small political parties (the German Communist Party, the German Marxist-Leninist Party, and the Socialist Party of Equality). They are marginal and due to their dogmatism and unrealizable demands do not enjoy the support of the forces of the "legal" left political spectrum.
  • Some small left-wing extremist groups (the Marxist Group, the Trotskyist Left Krenn and Marx 21, etc.) focus on theoretical discussions about reorganizing the world and do not engage in public actions.
  • The larger platform is the Interventionist Left, which has 33 cells with 1,000 members.

2. Showing a penchant for violence.

  • "Autonomists." This is the largest umbrella organization of the radical left (7,400 members in 2019). "Autonomists" consider it legitimate to use violence against neo-Nazis, when resisting police actions, in the process of "winning autonomous spaces" in the streets for a "free society," which manifests as riots and damage to property.
  • "Anti-imperialists," such as the groups Perspective Communism and Youth Resistance.
  • Anarchists, for example, the "Free Workers' Union" (about 800 activists). In Germany, the "anarcho-syndicalists" are mostly prevalent, which focus on non-violence and work with trade unions as workers' representatives. Still, experts note that a certain percentage of German anarchists may be prone to violence.

All of these structures are under the supervision of the security services.

There are also individual radical organizations supported from abroad. This name refers to the activities of radical groups that cannot be classified as right-wing, left-wing or Islamist extremism. The most numerous and well-organized structure of this type is the Grey Wolves. These are separate but closely linked groups of Turkish ultranationalists, aligned with the Turkish Nationalist Movement Party and considered to be its fighting cells. The party is in coalition with the ruling movement of Recep Erdogan. According to various estimates, there are as many as 20,000 active Wolves supporters in Germany. The group is already banned in France. In Austria, the organization's salute ("wolf sign"), recognized as extremist, has been banned. A number of politicians and public figures in Germany (from representatives of the Kurdish community to the Greens) demanded that the "Wolves" be banned. Experts on nationalist movements in Turkey say that the attitude of German residents with Turkish roots toward the "Grey Wolves" is very complicated. While some in the Turkish community oppose the group and deny their ultra-nationalism, others find the group's fears unnecessary and perceive the Wolves as a legitimate segment of the Turkish political spectrum. For example, in 2011. "The Essen Turkish Alliance, a member of the city's Integration Council, refused to condemn the activities of the Grey Wolves. One CDU politician of Turkish origin, a member of Hamm's Integration Council, turned out to be a Wolf activist and was expelled from the German party for this reason in 2015.

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