Attack on AfD politician: brutalised politics?

Frank Magnitz, the leader of Alternative for Germany (AfD) in Bremen, was knocked unconscious and beaten by unidentified assailants wearing masks on Tuesday. Commentators condemn the attack and have words of warning for all those who oppose the AfD.

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Spiegel Online (DE) /

Anti-fascist heroes, my foot

Blows cannot replace arguments in a democracy, Spiegel Online stresses:

“No AfD supporter will turn their back on the party because of such an act - on the contrary, attacks like this will make it close ranks - so to make matters worse this was also a politically stupid act. Nor was the attack democratic self-defence against a supposedly looming takeover of our country by the authoritarian right. Anyone who thinks this way sees our democracy as weaker than it is. And anyone who takes this kind of action has basically already given up on democracy. ... [The perpetrators] may consider themselves anti-fascist heroes, but in fact they are just brutal criminals. And let's hope Frank Magnitz makes a quick and complete recovery. So that he can be fought against soon: with words.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Less abusive language needed

The opponents of the AfD paved the way for violence with their words, writes the Neue Zürcher Zeitung:

“It's true that the AfD is largely responsible for the brutalization of political culture. ... But many critics of the party are no better. They may reject physical attacks, but the terms they use are the key that opens the door for others to use violence - above all the almost omnipresent 'Nazis'. Among a large section of the German public it has become common practice to refer to AfD members in this way. ... Those who think they are combating Nazis, be it with tweets or T-shirts, align themselves with the Scholl siblings and the men of the 20th of July, and that no doubt feels good. In reality, however, such blatant invectives don't protect open society but do it considerable harm.”

Lidové noviny (CZ) /

Reminiscent of Weimar

Civilised political discourse appears to be no longer possible in Germany, Lidové noviny observes:

“As an anti-system party, the AfD only has 13 percent of the seats in the Bundestag. ... Nevertheless it's impossible not to notice how things are seething under the surface. ... Random House has refused to publish the new book by [provocative politician and writer Thilo] Sarrazin; Suhrkamp has distanced itself from statements made by its author [and anti-immigration politician Uwe] Tellkamp; Margarete Stokowski cancelled a sold-out reading because the owner of the book store also sold titles by right-wing authors. ... Such a situation is more reminiscent of 90 years ago, when the Weimar Republic was nearing its end, than of a stable society. Back then, too, militants of all stripes didn't shy away from strong words or gestures, be it in the form of ideological haranguing or street violence.”

Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

AfD needs to improve its image

Rzeczpospolita believes that the AfD will use the incident to gain acceptability:

“Some of the party's structures have long been under observation [by the German security services], but not the entire party. However no one doubts that the authorities in Germany have good reason to home in on some of the party leaders because of links to the neo-Nazi milieu, for example. In this situation the party is doing its best to distance itself from its current political niche where it's considered a nationalist, far-right party with a problematic relationship to Germany's past.”