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Last Updated: Monday, 22 May 2006, 16:04 GMT 17:04 UK
Germans warned of neo-Nazi surge
Anti-racism demonstrators
There is growing concern over the rise in racist attacks
German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has urged extra vigilance from the public to help tackle a rise in far-right extremism.

He said there should be no "no-go areas" for foreigners, as he presented an official report showing a rise in neo-Nazi violence last year.

A Turkish-born politician, Giyasettin Sayan, is in hospital following an apparently racist assault on Friday.

There has been growing concern about racist attacks ahead of the World Cup.

Former government spokesman Uwe-Karsten Heye drew criticism from politicians after suggesting that black people should avoid parts of the former communist East Germany.

German police have warned that far-right groups are planning to use the World Cup as a platform to win publicity.

I think during the world championship everyone can feel safe wherever he will be in Germany
Wolfgang Schaeuble
German Interior Minister

Mr Schaeuble has already warned that the government will take a tough stance against xenophobia during the football tournament, adding that "no one who attempts to attack foreigners, especially people of colour, will succeed".

"We will not tolerate any form of extremism, xenophobia or anti-Semitism," he told reporters on Monday.

Germany's slogan for the World Cup is "A time to make friends" and officials see the 32-nation tournament as a chance to present their country to the world as welcoming, open and tolerant.

The figures in the report by Germany's Office for the Protection of the Constitution showed a total of 2,448 politically-motivated violent crimes in 2005.

The overall figure for far-right criminal offences was 15,914, compared with 12,553 for 2004. They included 958 violent crimes, up from 776 in 2004.

Extremist violence

The office, which is tasked with fighting extremism and terrorism, also reported that the number of neo-Nazis in Germany rose from 3,800 in 2004 to 4,100 last year.

The number of right-wing extremists ready to use violence also rose from 10,000 to 10,400, although overall number of far-right extremists dropped slightly, the report said.

The number of left-wing extremist acts of violence was reported to have risen dramatically in 2005 - from 375 to 896.

Mr Schaeuble said the violence attributed to right-wing extremists may have increased because they have been holding more organised marches - which in turn attract counter-demonstrations by leftists, often resulting in clashes.

Police unions have called on the government to ban any neo-Nazi demonstrations outside World Cup stadiums.

Image worries

Konrad Freiburg, the head of the police trade union, says these violent scenes could be repeated if the marches are not banned.

"The consequences would be violence and injuries," he said. "But there would also be terrible pictures seen all over the world - in which 200 mad neo-Nazis are being protected by a ring of 1,000 policemen from a counter-demonstration. It's not the image of Germany we want to present."

The suspected racist assault on Mr Sayan in Berlin was just the latest in a series of attacks that have made the headlines this year.

In April, an Ethiopian-born man suffered extensive skull and rib injuries in what was reported to be a racist attack in Potsdam.

Germany in World Cup pledge
18 May 06 |  African
Germany beefs up anti-Nazi laws
11 Mar 05 |  Europe


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