Germany sees rise in number of right-wing extremists

Horst Seehofer (CSU), Federal Minister of the Interior, Homeland and Construction, presents the 2019 Report on the Protection of the Constitution at the Federal Press Conference in Berlin, Germany, Thursday, July 9 2020. (Hannibal Hanschke/Pool via AP) (Hannibal Hanschke, (c) Reuters Pool)

BERLIN – Germany recorded a significant rise in the number of right-wing extremists last year, after security agencies added thousands of members of the country's main far-right party to the count.

An annual report on extremism in Germany released Thursday estimates the number of right-wing extremists in the country at 32,080 last year. This is an increase of almost 8,000 compared to the figure of 24,100 recorded in 2018.

The report, released by the BfV domestic intelligence agency, includes for the first time around 7,000 members of the Alternative for Germany party's youth section and a radical faction known as The Wing. Both have come under heightened scrutiny from the BfV because of their perceived extremist tendencies.

German authorities vowed to step up measures against far-right extremism following the killing of a regional politician by a suspected neo-Nazi, an attack on a synagogue in Halle and the fatal shooting of nine people in Hanau over the past year.

“(Far-right extremism) is the biggest security policy challenge in our country,” Interior Minister Horst Seehofer told reporters at the presentation of the report in Berlin.

Authorities in Munich announced that they have searched premises linked to 12 German citizens in three states and neighboring Austria on suspicion of smuggling weapons into the country. The suspects are affiliated with the far right and the Reich Citizens movement, a loose grouping that denies the legitimacy of the current German state.

The number of far-left extremists increased by 1,500 to 33,500 last year, according to the report. More than two-thirds of those are classified as “not violence-oriented.”

The report also counts about 28,020 people in Germany with tendencies toward Islamic extremism, up from 26,560 in 2018.