Scholz Vows to Fight Surge of Political ‘Terror’ in Germany

(Bloomberg) -- Olaf Scholz promised to send migrants who commit serious crimes back to their homelands, including Taliban-ruled Afghanistan and war-battered Syria, as the German chancellor responded to mounting concerns over law and order.

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After a spate of violent attacks, he labeled the recent death of a policeman following a knife attack by an Afghan-born man as an act of “terror.” There will be zero tolerance for such political violence, the chancellor said on Thursday.

“We will fight terror,” Scholz said in a speech to lawmakers in Berlin. “Without security there is nothing.”

Germany has faced several cases of violence and assaults on politicians ahead of Sunday’s European Parliament elections, which stoked a heated debate about security. With migrants involved in some cases, it has triggered calls for stricter rules.

Open aggression toward politicians included the beating of a Social Democrat official while hanging up campaign posters in Dresden. Incidents have also affected the CDU, the Greens as well as the far-right Alternative for Germany.

Scholz vowed to counter violence regardless of whether it comes from the far left or the far right, or directed at Germans or foreigners or Christians, Muslims or Jews.

“Security is the cornerstone of our freedom, our democracy and our rule of law,” Scholz said. “This is precisely why the federal government is so determined to counter all threats that endanger the security of our country.”

The number of politically motivated crimes in Germany rose to the highest level in almost a quarter of a century last year, driven by a surge in right-wing extremism and antisemitism.

Authorities recorded 60,028 offenses in 2023, an increase of about 2%, according to figures published last month by the interior ministry in Berlin. That was the most since the data set was created in 2001.

On Friday, a 25-year-old Afghan-born man went on a rampage with a knife at a campaign event in Mannheim and injured six people, including a 29-year-old policeman who has since died. Scholz said such crimes should lead to deportation.

“It outrages me when someone who has sought protection here commits the most serious crimes,” Scholz said in Berlin. “Such criminals should be deported, even if they come from Syria or Afghanistan.”

Authorities last month also detained a 74-year-old man suspected of carrying out an attack on Berlin’s deputy mayor. Franziska Giffey, a member of Scholz’s Social Democrats, was struck from behind on the head and neck with a bag filled with hard contents and suffered minor injuries.

“Anyone who attacks our freedom and disturbs our peace has me, has this federal government, has our constitutional state as their most determined opponent,” the chancellor said.

(Adds additional comments from Scholz beginning in the third paragraph.)

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