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Germany: Politicians, virologists facing 'rising hostility from COVID deniers'

Insulting behavior made up nearly half of last year's recorded offenses, following by intimidation and threats ©Christian Mang/Ruckblende 2020/dpa/picture alliance


(DW) - Germany's top federal police investigator has said German society is currently emotionally charged with COVID-19 deniers projecting their threats at politicians, virologists and journalists.
"We see with concern that the number of threats and hostilities is steadily increasing," Holger Münch, Germany's top federal police investigator, told Der Spiegel magazine on Saturday.

"More and more frequently, we are registering attacks on journalists" and persons exposed in media coverage, he added.

Münch is head of Germany's Federal Crime Office (BKA), based in Wiesbaden, and in charge of major investigations nationwide — beyond those handled by police forces in the 16 regional states.


Protection for politicians adjusted

The BKA had readjusted its safeguards for political officeholders in consultation with Germany's 16 states, the BKA chief said.

BKA officers, half of whom were doing their investigations from home because of the pandemic, were observing the denier scene "very exactly," said Münch. Questioning of suspects was still being done out-and-about.

Radicals had not yet fully infiltrated the coronavirus denial movement, Münch said, describing it as a mix of conspiracy theorists, esoteric thinkers and far-right extremists — seen last year at large demonstrations in Berlin and Leipzig.

Münch said the BKA had last year also witnessed an "alarming" surged in anti-foreigner, racist and anti-Semitic offenses.

What typically began online with calls to radicalization and mobilization had "showed its impacts in the analog world," Münch said.

In a parallel report Saturday, Germany's Interior Ministry, replying to a question in parliament by the Left party, presented data showing a doubling of crimes directed at politicians between 2018 and 2020.

Recorded by German security entities last year were 2,629 offenses against officeholders, although this provisional data in half of cases had not yet been sorted into crimes with origins in right- or left-wing, religious or anti-foreigner circles, said the ministry.


Hundreds of cases linked to COVID-19

Of the other half already attributed, 902 had far-right motivations and 370 politically leftist associations. And 374 offenses were connected to the coronavirus, notably measures to deal with the current pandemic.

By comparison, crimes recorded against politicians amounted in 2018 to 1,256; and in 2019 to 1,674 offenses.

Insulting behavior made up nearly half of last year's recorded offenses, following by intimidation and threats, then property damage and inciting civil unrest.

Acts of direct violence totaled 78, including 48 instances of blackmail, 17 cases of bodily injury, seven cases of arson, one attempted murder and one involving explosives. 

Source / ipj/shs (dpaAFP)

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