Friday, 22 March, 2019

Local leader of German far-right party attacked, wounded

Frank Magnitz had just left a new year event in Bremen when he was attacked. /COURTESY Frank Magnitz had just left a new year event in Bremen when he was attacked. /COURTESY
Patty Aguilar | 09 January, 2019, 08:45

At least three masked men severely beat a local leader of the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party Monday evening in the northern city of Bremen in what police are calling a "politically motivated act".

Mr Magnitz, 66, had just left a new year reception in Bremen's Kunsthalle art museum when he was attacked in the city's Goetheplatz as he walked to a central auto park. It said three people with their faces covered had carried out the attack.

While they have won fans in some quarters and are projected to make gains in European elections in May as well as three regional polls in Germany's former communist east this year, they have also sparked furore and become a target of attack.

And last weekend in Lower Saxony, the home of a local AfD politician was targeted with graffiti and a party office was attacked with a paint bomb. Magnitz was "nearly beaten to death", Meuthen said.

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, a centre-left politician who has been a strong critic of AfD, tweeted that "violence must never be a means of political confrontation - no matter against whom or what the motives are".

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Last week, an explosive device detonated in a rubbish bin damaged an AfD office in Saxony.

"I hope the perpetrators will soon be investigated & sentenced", said Germany's Green party MP, Cem Özdemir, adding that there is no justification for violence "even against the AfD". "Anyone who fights hatred with hatred always lets hatred win in the end", he wrote on Twitter.

The AfD's entry into parliament in September 2017 with 13 percent of the vote unleashed a political natural disaster in Germany. It entered the national parliament in 2017 and is now the biggest opposition party there. The attackers fled the scene after beating the politician unconscious, according to Germany's Bild. It views the country's established political parties with contempt, and the feeling is mutual.

In 2015, a far-right extremist stabbed in the neck a leading mayoral candidate for Cologne, who at the time was in charge of housing refugees. The mayor was known for voluntarily taking in more asylum-seekers than the small town was obliged to do so by authorities.

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