Germany: right-wing violence rose over 40 percent last year

AP News
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Posted: May 23, 2016 10:49 AM
Germany: right-wing violence rose over 40 percent last year

BERLIN (AP) — Violent crimes with a right-wing political motive rose more than 40 percent in Germany last year as the country saw a large influx of migrants, the government said Monday. The number of crimes committed by foreigners was also up more than 10 percent.

German authorities recorded 1,485 violent far-right crimes last year, up from 1,029 the previous year, according to annual crime statistics. As the number of homes for asylum-seekers swelled, so too did crimes targeting them, which more than quadrupled to 923. Acts of violence against those homes increased to 177 from 26 the previous year.

The Interior Ministry reported a large increase in the broader category of "hate crimes," offenses of a racist or anti-Semitic nature or targeting people because of their religion. They rose 77 percent to 10,373 from 5,858 the previous year.

"The rise in right-wing politically motivated crime is above all evident in the xenophobic incidents," Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere told reporters. "That is unacceptable and will be met toughly by the police and justice system."

De Maiziere noted that left-wing violent crimes were even higher than those on the right, rising 34.9 percent to 2,246 incidents, largely directed against the police.

Germany saw a greater influx of migrants in 2015 than any other European country. Nearly 1.1 million people were registered as asylum-seekers, though the actual number who came is believed to be somewhat lower.

While many Germans were welcoming, there has been strong opposition from a vocal minority, and concern over increasing anti-foreigner violence. A string of sexual assaults and robberies on New Year's Eve in Cologne blamed primarily on foreigners also fed fears and fueled a nationwide debate over immigration policies.

De Maiziere said by far the largest category of crimes committed by foreigners in 2015 were crimes that can only be committed by migrants, such as illegal entry to the country or failure to register with authorities.

Those offenses more than doubled to 402,741 from 156,396 and "distort the picture of security in our country," accounting largely for a 4.1 percent increase overall in all offenses recorded by police last year, he said. Excluding those offenses exclusively concerning foreigners, the overall number was barely changed at a bit over 5.9 million, he said.

Excluding the foreigner-specific crimes, Germans committed some three-quarters of the offenses recorded in 2015, but crimes by non-Germans were up 12.8 percent, and were largely things like document forgery, pickpocketing and home burglaries, de Maiziere said.

The top groups involved were nationals from Turkey, accounting for 13.3 percent of the crimes, Romania at 9.4 percent, Poland at 8 percent, Serbia at 4.8 percent and Italy at 4.3 percent.

Syrians were involved in 2.6 percent of the crimes, Afghans 1.8 percent and Iraqis 1.6 percent.

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David Rising contributed to this story.

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A previous version of this story was corrected to show that nearly 1.1 million people were registered as asylum-seekers in 2015, not 2014.