Germany’s opposition party dissolves radical wing following intelligence surveillance

24th Apr 2020

Nadine Osman

A radical splinter group of Germany’ biggest opposition party the far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) has dissolved after the head of the country’s intelligence agency announced it is under increased surveillance, following the surge in far-right terror attacks.

The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution [Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz] (BfV) increased its surveillance of Der Fluegel [The Wing], following recent deadly far-right attacks on ethnic minorities, including the attack in Hanau in February, in which 11 people many of whom Muslim immigrants lost their lives. A manifesto written by the perpetrator of the attack contained anti-migrant rhetoric that echoed AfD sentiments.

The terror attack increased calls from across the political spectrum for the AfD to be put under observation.

German magazines Der Spiegel and Die Zeit magazines announced on March 21 that the leader of The Wing Björn Höcke bowed to demand from AfD’s leadership, who were failing to avert recriminations that the party is legitimizing the increasing fascist views in the country.
Speaking with Sezession website Höcke said, “We now need an impulse that points beyond the Wing and stresses the unity of the party.”

In an earlier interview, Höcke defended his calls for the “de-Islamisation of Germany and Europe” insisting they are “not directed against the freedom of religion anchored in the constitution.”

He also claimed his repeated use of anti-Islam rhetoric did not call for “the collective expulsion of Muslims living in Germany, and certainly not of German citizens.”
However, BfV President, Thomas Haldenwang said The Wing “evidently” had “extremist intentions” and singled out several members of The Wing, including Höcke as “far-right extremists.”

Making reference to the people who died in the country’s right-wing terror attacks in the last 12 months, Halberwang said, “Behind these figures, there are innocent victims — and there are also those who are responsible and those who supported them.”

He told reporters on March 12, “We cannot repeat the past,” he said, explaining that a higher level of surveillance, especially in the digital world, could help to unmask the supporters of extremism.

The AfD began as a free-market, Eurosceptic party, critical of the Euro and opposed to German-supported bailouts of Southern European countries. The 2015 refugee crisis, which saw Chancellor Angela Merkel welcome almost a million asylum seekers from Syria, offered the party an opportunity for a rapid expansion of its base.

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