The German government and political parties have reacted with indignation and the demand for consistent and tough action by the security forces and justice in the face of outbreaks of extremist violence by far-right elements and neo-Nazis in this Saturday’s demonstration against the executive’s measures to combat the coronavirus epidemic. Above all, the attempted assault on the Reichstag, seat of the German parliament, by radical right-wing groups waving flags from the imperial era, which the neo-Nazis use to replace the forbidden swastika, and which was rejected by anti-riot units has provoked strong reactions.
“The Reichstag building is the seat of our parliament and thus the symbolic center of our liberal democracy. That chaotic and extremists try to exploit it for their purposes is unbearable, “says Federal Minister of the Interior, Horst Seehofer in statements to Sunday Bild am Sonntag, in which he appreciates the” quick and consistent “police action and stresses that” the state must act against those people with zero tolerance and maximum toughness.
Seehofer emphasizes that “the diversity of opinions determines a healthy society, but the right to demonstrate has its limits where the norms of the state are kicked”. An opinion shared by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Heiko Maas, who recognizes that “everyone has the right to argue about how to face the coronavirus crisis and naturally to demonstrate to defend their opinion,” warns that “no one should second to the extreme right, threatening the police and endangering other people “and denounces that” waving imperial flags before parliament is a shame. ” The head of German diplomacy recalls that “our fundamental law guarantees freedom of opinion and the right to demonstrate” and is “the answer to the failure of the Weimar Republic and the horrors of Nazism”, but affirms that the Nazi symbolism and the Flags of the imperial era that ended the First World War “do not paint anything before the German Bundestag.”
On the part of the Greens, its spokesman and deputy Konstantin von Notz described as “disgusting and shameful” that participants in the demonstration, “which they had called the ultra-nationalist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party and the neo-Nazi formation National Democratic Party (NPD) They will try to take the Reichstag by storm. An opinion shared by the General Secretary of the German Social Democrats, Lars Klingbeil who expresses his “anger and amazement” at the attempted assault on one of the symbols of democracy in Germany. Some 38,000 people participated in the protest against measures to combat the pandemic in central Berlin. Although the demonstration was mostly peaceful, there were outbreaks of violence outside the Reichstag and the Russian embassy on Unter den Linden avenue, which the police forcefully put down. The interior senator from Berlin, Andreas Geisel, said last night on television that the events were predictable. “It was to be expected what has happened,” said Geisel, who regretted the decision of the High Administrative Court of Berlin-Brandenburg to authorize the protest and annul the ban on it that had been previously issued by the authorities of the German capital.
Meanwhile, the president of the German Federation of Criminal Investigation Officials, Sebastian Fiedler, has warned of the dangerous consequences of demonstrations against the policy to fight the coronavirus like the one in Berlin. “Such protests are an ideal environment for radical movements trying to gain adherents to their ideologies,” says Fiedler in the Rheinischen Post. “In them enemies of democracy are mixed with parts of the center of society and conspiracy theories thus reach greater diffusion”, comments the expert, for whom a feeling of community is produced between groups that previously had nothing to do with each other. others. After commenting that this is something that the rule of law is obliged to tolerate when it comes to respecting the right to demonstrate, he stressed that, however, “it can be dangerous for the stability of society and liberal democracy.”
Fiedler says that politicians must now more than ever explain publicly and clearly the measures they take and also support any public debate that may ensue. “And the security forces have to watch closely and combat suspicious structures on the Internet,” says the criminal expert, for whom “that is the only way to deal with the accelerated spread of conspiracy theories.”