Swiss right-wing extremists are much less militant than those in Germany. It also has to do with history.
The racially motivated attack by Hanau shakes Germany. He is part of a series of extreme right-wing acts of violence in recent years. According to the current investigation, the Hanau perpetrator is a single perpetrator who was not part of a larger network. But such networks also regularly occupy the judiciary in Germany: only last weekend, 12 people were arrested in raids in several federal states, which are said to have planned attacks on foreigners and politicians. And in January, the German authorities banned the Combat 18 neo-Nazi association.
In Switzerland, the extreme right-wing scene is comparatively quiet – reports of violent acts are rare. “In terms of militancy, the scene of Swiss right-wing extremists differs fundamentally from that in Germany,” says Samuel Althof, head of the private agency for extremism and violence prevention Fexx, about SRF News.
“Swiss right-wing extremists are not structurally prepared to use violence,” says Althof. In individual cases, however, violence against people can still occur. And there are also violent clashes between right and left extremes. “But the right-wing extremist scene in Switzerland cannot be compared to a terrorist organization,” says Althof.
“No National Socialist History”
The differences to Germany are, among other things, historical. “Switzerland has no National Socialist history like Germany.” There are no large networks of right-wing extremists here, as in Germany. “A comparable grouping would have to be built from scratch in Switzerland. It has always failed so far, »says Althof.
But even if the right-wing scene in Switzerland is fundamentally less prone to violence than that in Germany, there could of course also be psychologically ill individual perpetrators in this country with an extreme-right worldview like in Hanau.
«Political climate less toxic than in Germany»
The extremism expert estimates that the hard core of Swiss right-wing extremists consists of a maximum of 80 people. The wider environment of this core should include around 1000 people. Amhof’s hard core includes the Pnos (Nationally Oriented Swiss Party) or the so-called “Comradeship Heimattreu”. The Swiss right-wing extremists would not maintain structural cooperation with German groups. “The contacts are limited to individual cases,” says Althof.
Althof sees another reason for the differences between the two scenes in the political climate in Switzerland. “This is less toxic in Germany today than in Germany,” he says. “The right-wing political fringe in Switzerland offers only a limited spiritual home for right-wing extremists.”
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