Germany: Right-wing crimes up 14% last year

Attacks on foreigners up 37%; over 18,000 hate crimes in Germany last year.

Crimes by right-wing extremists and attacks on foreigners rose in Germany last year, the government said Friday. The number of right-wing crimes grew by 14 percent and the number of violent attacks on foreigners rose by 37% in 2006, the German Interior Ministry said. More than 18,000 right-wing hate crimes were registered in Germany last year, up from 15,900 in 2005. Of those, 511 were defined as violent attacks on foreigners and immigrants, an increase of 37% compared to 2005, when 373 violent anti-foreigner crimes were reported. The total number of politically motivated crimes, which also includes crimes by leftist groups, rose by about 10% to 29,050 cases. "The numbers reported for 2006 in the area of politically motivated criminality are cause for worry," Interior minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said in a statement. "Unfortunately, our manifold efforts to fight (extremist crimes) have not yet led to a decrease of this criminality." Members of far-right parties sit in three regional legislatures in formerly communist east Germany, where unemployment remains high some 17 years after Germany's 1990 reunification. Although adherents remain a fringe movement, many officials have called for a stronger effort against the spread of extremist ideology. Officials said there was no detailed analysis accompanying the numbers about why the statistics had risen. Some have pointed to the electoral successes as encouraging the movement; Schaeuble said the intense police scrutiny before and during last year's World Cup soccer tournament may have contributed to more reporting. Inciting racial hatred or denying the Holocaust remain crimes in Germany, as is the display of Nazi symbols.