Horst Seehofer, Germany’s top security official, issued a statement to the country on Thursday following the ban of the far-right group United German Peoples and Tribes and recent anti-Semitic and racist attacks carried out across the country.
“We are dealing with a group that distributes racist and anti-Semitic writings and in doing so systematically poisons our free society,” Seehofer said, reported the Associated Press.
According to the outlet, more than 400 officers raided the homes of 21 prominent United German Peoples and Tribes members and seized undetermined amounts of firearms and propaganda, as well as “small amounts” of drugs.
Interior Ministry spokesman Steve Alter took to social media to announce the government’s ban of the “imperial citizens’ association.” The government spokesman also revealed that authorities had conducted “police measures” in at least 10 German states by the time of his posting.
BM #Seehofer hat mit "Geeinte deutsche Völker und Stämme" erstmals eine Reichsbürgervereinigung verboten. Seit den Morgenstunden laufen in zehn Bundesländern polizeiliche Maßnahmen. Rechtsextremismus, Rassismus und Antisemitismus werden auch in Krisenzeiten unerbittlich bekämpft.— Steve Alter (@BMISprecher) March 19, 2020
“Right-wing extremism, racism and anti-Semitism are being fought relentlessly even in times of crisis,” Seehofer added in his Thursday statement, as reported by Reuters. He stressed that members of the United German Peoples and Tribes had carried out “verbal militancy” against civil servants and their families.
These recent efforts to combat extremism come shortly after a total of 10 people were killed and several others injured in a February shooting at a shisha bar in Hanau, Germany. At the time, Seehofer asserted that the “biggest security threat facing Germany” was “right-wing extremism, anti-Semitism and racism.”
The gunman, identified as a follower of right-wing ideology, committed suicide following the massacre.
The Times of Israel reported that Seehofer said Thursday that there had been a “trail of blood” left by right-wing extremists following the anti-Semitic October attack on a synagogue that left two dead in the German city of Halle and the June 2 murder of Walter Lübcke, a pro-immigration politician.
The German Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz, the country’s domestic intelligence service, announced last week that it had stepped up surveillance of the nativist, right-wing political party Alternative for Germany (AfD).
“This is a warning to all enemies of democracy,“ Thomas Haldenwang, the head of the agency, told reporters on March 12, reported the Wall Street Journal. The stepped-up surveillance of the political party may include phone tapping, the monitoring of electronic communications and the introduction of undercover agents among the ranks of the party.
German politician and leader of the AfD in the Bundestag Alice Weidel took to social media on the same day to protest the intelligence agency’s decision.
“The [Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz] is using the basest methods to criminalize the biggest opposition party,” she said, according to a translation by the WSJ. “We will use all legal instruments to put an end to this surveillance.”