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Sunday, 30 July, 2000, 13:56 GMT 14:56 UK
Germany agonises over bomb attack
Injured
The latest in a series of attacks with right-wing links
The Duesseldorf bomb attack which injured at least nine people, most of them Jewish immigrants from Russia, triggered much soul-searching in German politics and the media.

Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said he was "sick of reading almost every day about orgies of violence by right-wing gangs against foreigners or minorities".

"It is a revolting crime," said Interior Minister Otto Schily, and he promised the perpetrators would be tracked down and punished with due severity.

He was speaking against the background of 10,000 crimes in 1999 with a right-wing connection, 750 of them involving violence.


We must not trivialise violence

Greens spokesman

Just days ago, the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung reported that three youths had kicked a homeless man to death on the Baltic island of Usedom because, they said, "tramps don't belong in German society".

The problem has a further political dimension: in the comparatively less prosperous eastern Germany, a foreigner is 25 times more likely to be attacked than in the West.

The government has come under fire for a lack of political will to tackle the problem.

"We must not trivialise violence," says Greens spokesman Volker Beck. "We can't allow excuses like our unemployment is so high and that's why a foreigner occasionally gets beaten up."

A statistical problem?

But the government says its room for manoeuvre is limited, given that the individual federal states have responsibility for internal security.

They have already rejected the idea of a special conference on right-wing extremism.


Sunday sermons alone aren't enough

Police leader

The leader of the Central Council of German Jews, Paul Spiegel, told Spiegel magazine that his community was "horrified by the attack, outraged and dismayed".

Mr Spiegel is planning a campaign to combat xenophobia and anti-Semitism backed by celebrities like tennis star Boris Becker. The government has given the campaign its blessing.

But a police union leader dismissed the government's reaction. "Sunday sermons alone aren't enough," said Konrad Freiberg, quoted in the Rheinische Post.

Boris Becker
Boris Becker is backing the anti-xenophobia campaign
A leader of the Turkish community in Germany, Safter Cinar, told politicians they "must stop treating racist violence as a statistical problem".

And the Sueddeutsche Zeitung sounds an ominous warning, comparing the right-wing thugs to the 1970s phenomenon of left-wing violence by the Red Army Fraction.

"The neo-Nazi threat is more dangerous than the RAF, because it has a resonance in people's minds that the RAF never had."

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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27 Jul 00 | Europe
Shrapnel bomb injures nine
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