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Thursday, 31 August, 2000, 06:05 GMT 07:05 UK
Europe fears spread of racism
Schroeder inspects a collection of seized neo-Nazi weapons and propaganda materials in eastern Germany
Chancellor Schroeder has been trying to curb right-wing extremism
By Jon Leyne

The murder of a Mozambican man in Germany, for which three skinheads have just been sentenced to long prison terms, is the latest in a series of racist attacks there.

There is growing concern about the trend in Germany, where it is increasingly dominating the political agenda.

Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has warned that racism could harm Germany's economic prospects.

In other parts of Europe, the extreme right also appears to be on the rise.

East Germany

In Germany, this was the third murder this year blamed on rightwing extremists.

Lesser attacks continue with regularity.

Haider's far-right Freedom Party is still in the Austrian Government
This week they included an arson attack on a home for asylum seekers, and the beating up of a 33-year old African man.

The problem is at its worst in the former East Germany.

Ironically it is the part of the country with the smallest population of immigrants.

But it does suffer the highest unemployment. Nearly 20% of the workforce are without jobs.

Communist legacy

Politicians have also blamed the years of communism for stifling the growth of civil society.

Chancellor Schroeder has been visiting eastern Germany for two weeks, as part of efforts to tackle the problem.

He is to lay a wreath at a memorial to Alberto Adriano - the latest murder victim.

Mr Schroeder has called for tough action by the police and courts.

But he said there was also a need for better employment and training prospects for young people.

The chancellor called for the engagement of all of society to fight for what is right, as he put it.

Gerhard Schroeder said it was not just a German problem.

Intolerance spreading

His comments came on the day that an opinion poll in Norway gave a lead, for the first time, to the far-right Progress Party.

In Austria, the Freedom Party, led by Jorg Haider, continues to share power in a coalition government.

Even in those countries where the far-right is in disarray, calls for control over immigrants and asylum-seekers have become popular rallying cries.

While Germany battles skinhead thugs, the debate in other countries is more subtle.

The fear is that intolerance and racism may be gaining a new veneer of respectability.

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See also:

30 Aug 00 | Europe
German racist killers jailed
07 Aug 00 | Europe
Germany agonises over neo-Nazis
23 Aug 00 | Europe
Germany's east-west gulf
18 Aug 00 | Europe
German neo-Nazis suspend demos
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