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    Demonstration of German party AfD (Alternative for Germany) in Mainz, Germany.

    Far-Right Extremism Hits an All-Time High in Europe

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    New figures released by the German government have shown that extremism is increasing and the trigger is refugees.

    Figures released by the German Interior Ministry on 23 May 2016, have shown that far-right crimes are on the rise, 2015 was the worst year for extremist crimes in Germany and officials believe that these figures merely reflect a deeper issue amongst Germans citizens.

    Although most of the incidents reported are of a non-violent nature, racist propaganda and hatred towards refugees had spiralled out of control.

    Out of the total 38,981 crimes reported, 22,690 of those were committed by far-right groups. Only 9,605 crimes were committed by far-left radicals.

    The statistics have shown a 19 percent increase in politically motivated crime versus the previous year.

    UNITED for Intercultural Action, a European network against nationalism, racism, fascism and in support of migrants and refugees, believes that this increase in far-right activity is very worrying.

    "Right-wing radicalization, in Germany and elsewhere, is feeding from a populist narrative on migration that paints it as the main reason for economic and social problems. The heightened public attention on migration that has accompanied the recent influx of refugees has brought this narrative into the mainstream. This has found fertile ground with many people disengaged from mainstream politics, and still feeling the economic effects of the financial crash," a spokesperson for UNITED for Intercultural Action told Sputnik.

    The group also believes that the financial situation needs to be addressed.

    "The economic aspect can't be ignored — support for far-right groups is generally far greater in the eastern part of the country, where unemployment is far higher and average earnings are far lower. For many young people, the embrace of a populist, migrant-blaming narrative is the closest they can come to empowerment and a sense of self-value — even if they share many of the values, hopes and aspirations with the migrants and refugees that they seek to marginalize," said the spokesperson.

    The solution to tackling this far-right activity is far from easy, however UNITED for Intercultural Action believes that the police and security need to be on hand, as well as available to give victims of these crimes the necessary support.

    Supporters of the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) demonstrate against the German government's new policy for migrants, in Erfurt, Germany October 21, 2015.
    © REUTERS / Axel Schmidt
    Supporters of the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) demonstrate against the German government's new policy for migrants, in Erfurt, Germany October 21, 2015.

    "In terms of reacting to the immediate issue of violent acts committed by far-right groups, the police and other security agencies must of course do everything in their power to ensure that the perpetrators of hate crimes are prosecuted, and that their prosecutions result in meaningful convictions.

    "Meanwhile, there is a serious need to empower and provide support for victims of hate crimes, and governments should increase levels of financial support to organizations and networks providing services for victims," a spokesman for UNITED for Intercultural Action told Sputnik.

    The group is also seeking new ways to address radicalization as well as challenge the populist story on refugees and migrates, which seeks to paint them all as criminals. They believe European governments need to promote honesty and transparency as well as inclusive discussion about society's problems.

    UNITED for Intercultural Action are working on several projects themselves, such as an online campaign called #LifeSeekers. Launching in mid-June the campaign will seek to challenge the narratives around refugees in Europe and also call on European policy makers for a new approach to problems facing young people in Europe today.

    However addressing the views of the far-right extremists themselves is crucial. For Europe, the vision of a more diverse and inclusive society is paramount, and many far-right radicals are not necessarily in the groups that partake in violent activity.

    "Often they are there because they think these groups provide a solution to the problems in their communities. We need to be able to show people that this is not the answer, and that we can tackle our collective problems with solutions that don't rely on violence, hate and intolerance," said a spokesman UNITED for Intercultural Action.

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    right-wing extremism, far-right groups, anti-immigration protests, migrant crisis, extremism, politics, refugees, xenophobia, European Union, Germany, Europe
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