Hanau attack: is Germany drifting to the right?

Germany remains in shock after a right-wing extremist assailant shot dead nine people in two shisha bars in the German city of Hanau last week before killing his mother and himself. The political climate in the country is shifting, and politicians, the media and society are also to blame, Europe's media believe.

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Bild (DE) /

We must all search our souls

Bild editor-in-chief Julian Reichelt wonders whether Germany is mourning these terror victims in the same way it would have if the victims had had German names:

“Is our country suffering from the same feelings of oppression as it did after the Breitscheidplatz attack? ... Are we shedding tears the way we did after the Erfurt or Winnenden massacres? Are our horror, shame and self-doubt as great as they should be in a country that is still coming to terms with what remains the biggest racist mass murder ever committed? ... Sadly I have my doubts. ... After a terrorist attack like the one in Hanau, everyone in Germany must ask themselves: Do I mourn For Bilal as I would have mourned for Benedikt or Britta? We all owe our country an honest answer to that.”

Financial Times (GB) /

Populists paving the way for violence

Parties like the AfD have helped to poison the political climate and make bloodbaths like that in Hanau possible, the Financial Times complains:

“The backdrop to the growing violence is the erosion of the liberal order in western societies and the concomitant rise of nationalist and rightwing populist movements, whose stock in trade is xenophobia and racism. These forces are now represented in the legislatures of most democracies. They exploit free speech - not to advocate violence as such, but to whip up prejudices and to discredit mainstream politicians as multiculturalist traitors to white Christian civilisation. In this way, they contribute to a climate in which lonely extremists find excuses for murder.”

Daily Sabah (TR) /

German media protect far-right terrorists

With their approach to covering other such incidents Germany's media are partly to blame for the Hanau massacre, Daily Sabah stresses:

“The German media's implicit efforts to protect such criminals effectively encourage far-right terrorism. A quick look at local media reports on the Hanau massacre reveals that the assailant's last name was omitted except for his initials. Had a terrorist with a Middle Eastern background committed the atrocity in Hanau, the world would have learned his name immediately. Most stories describe Rathjen as 'racist' and 'far-right' rather than what he really is - a terrorist. We have a responsibility to refer to terrorists as terrorists. Unless the European media's current attitude changes, similar massacres will certainly happen in the future.”

taz, die tageszeitung (DE) /

Deep cracks in the positive self-image

Germany was never as friendly and liberal as it likes to think, explains taz:

“This narrative has always been too smooth, too nice, too drenched in self-praise. Now it's one reason why it's so difficult to grasp the obvious: there is a right-wing terrorist attack on the Republic, a bloody trail that stretches from the NSU murders to the murder of Walter Lübcke, the attack on the synagogue in Halle and now the dead in Hanau. This far-right terror is a deep crack in the pretty image of the Federal Republic of Germany as a haven of reason and civility. Because the far-right murders don't fit into this image, it is extremely difficult to take the attacks as seriously as one must.”

Corriere della Sera (IT) /

Something rotten in Germany

Paolo Valentino, Corriere della Sera's Berlin correspondent, also warns that after three attacks by right-wing extremists in just nine months we can no longer speak of isolated cases:

“All were driven by the same ideological delirium: hatred of foreignness, contempt for the non-white, anti-Semitism, the false myth about the 'death of a nation', the sinister legend of population exchange, the alleged existential threat to German identity. Something is rotten in Germany when actions of racist revolution from the cesspool of secret narrative, flooded with sinister, dark web and conspiracy theories, turn into violent and deadly action. Something is rotten because the loners are no longer alone, but operate in an increasingly disturbing environment. The shadow of right-wing extremist terrorism is spreading across the country.”

To Vima (GR) /

A murderous ideology

The massacre in Hanau is a reminder that words are followed by deeds, writes To Vima:

“This is not about opinions. It's not even just 'hate speech'. It's about violence. Extremist right-wing ideology, especially racism and xenophobia, not only legitimises violence but fuels and reinforces it. Not all right-wing extremists are violent, but the more their authoritarian and reactionary ideas are accepted, the more likely it is that someone will decide to put them into practice. Whether we're talking about organisations or 'lone wolves', the crux of the matter is that we are talking about an ideology that can become the weapon of a murderer.”

El Periódico de Catalunya (ES) /

Far right must be consistently isolated

El Periódico de Catalunya demands party-political consequences:

“The attacks coincide with the weakening in Thuringia of the wall that the right had so far maintained between itself and the far right. ... All this political strategising confirms the warning of Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz when he says: 'Our political debates must not allow us to ignore the fact that 75 years after the end of the Nazi dictatorship, far-right terror is once again taking hold in Germany. Quarreling within parties can only accelerate the rise of the AfD - a xenophobic party that stokes hatred of foreigners. Faced with this danger, the major German parties must return to their traditional tactics and isolate the right-wing extremists, while the security forces pursue the perpetrators of violence.”

Pravda (SK) /

Hidden horrors on the Internet

Pravda points out that supporters of the far right are becoming increasingly radicalised on their home computers:

“In recent times the term 'lone wolf' as applied to terrorists has been used in the context of radical Islamists. However, the increase in right-wing extremist terrorist attacks suggests that the definition needs to be extended to a different ideological spectrum. Indeed, the process by which Islamists and right-wing extremists become radicalised is similar. ... Unfortunately, racist and xenophobic views, as described by the suspected perpetrator Tobias R. in his 24-page pamphlet, are often found in everyday political communication. Not to mention the horrors that remain hidden in social networks.”