What lessons will Germany learn from NSU trial?
Beate Zschäpe, the main defendant in the trial of the German neo-Nazi terrorist group the NSU, has been sentenced to life imprisonment for complicity in ten murders. The four other accused were given sentences ranging from two and a half to ten years in prison. Commentators observe the advance of a far right movement in Germany and call for the focus on Islamist terror to be revised.
Right-wing extremism on the rise
NSU terrorism is just the tip of the far-right iceberg, the Tages-Anzeiger observes:
“Spurred on by the purported 'invasion' of refugees, the neo-Nazis are more vocal and unrestrained than ever. On social networks they have no qualms about inciting hatred against 'foreigners' and 'Turks'. ... Such xenophobia has long since extended to the centre of society, where it has firmly taken root. New terror cells have even emerged. The 'Freital Group' was recently convicted in Saxony. It was pure luck that their arson attacks on refugee asylums failed to kill anyone. The public takes surprisingly little notice of such developments, not only in Germany. Everyone talks about Islamic terror and forgets that right-wing extremist violence has claimed more than 200 lives in Germany alone.”
A country struggling with its dark side
The trial has exposed an unpleasant truth, De Volkskrant comments:
“The NSU investigation is also about the history of a country that more than 70 years after its rise from the ashes of the Third Reich is still struggling with the fact that there is a markedly right-wing extremist movement in its society. The crime statistics prove that this movement has grown stronger in recent years. The relatives [of the NSU's victims] and their lawyers take the view that the police, judiciary and intelligence services are looking the other way. Opposition parties like the Greens and the Left concur with this view. The lenient sentences for those who helped the NSU trio confirms this stance.”
Muslims belong to Germany
The trial could lead to a change of thinking, the Süddeutsche Zeitung hopes:
“With the NSU sentence a case ends that began with a taboo nickname used by the police. It was referred to as the 'kebab murders'. That was the supposedly catchy nickname used for the crimes. It is a word that reflects disdain because it suggests the killing of Turks by other Turks. With this word commonplace racism becomes tangible. ... The awareness that 'they do not belong' is virulent - also in politics, and on a ministerial level. To combat right-wing extremism you therefore need not just new bans like that just imposed by the German interior minister against the 'Osmanen Germania'. You also need a new way of thinking - one that recognises that Muslims belong to Germany.”
Don't forget left-wing terrorism
Germany's bad conscience prompts it to combat neo-Nazi terrorism, writes the right-wing liberal Jyllands-Posten:
“Such feelings have a likeable side to them, even if they may seem exaggerated at times. The disadvantage is that the fight against foreign crime is being postponed. For example, Germany has only now banned the Osmanen Germania, a gang that's involved in people and drug trafficking. If it weren't comprised mostly of Turks with close ties to the Erdoğan regime, perhaps this move would have come earlier. In addition, people tend to get more upset when the violence is committed by right-wing and not left-wing extremists. The public has a small amount of understanding for left-wing extremists but none at all for those on the right. Only when that imbalance is righted can Germany step out of the shadow of its past.”