For the first time ever, German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has banned a faction of the far-right “Reichsbürger” movement, a group that denies the existence and authority of the modern-day German government, an Interior Ministry spokesman said Thursday.
“We will be relentless in continuing the fight against right-wing extremism, even in times of crisis,” Seehofer said.
Police operations against the group “United German Peoples and Tribes” and related group “Osnabrücker Landmark” took place in 10 German states early Thursday morning, spokesman Steve Alter said on Twitter.
Over 400 officers carried out simultaneous raids at the homes of 21 of the group’s leaders early Thursday. The Interior Ministry said officers uncovered guns, baseball bats, propaganda materials, and small amounts of narcotics.
Racism and anti-Semitism will not be given “a single millimeter” of space in our society, Seehofer said following the raids, adding that the banned group “spread racist and anti-Semitic texts, thereby systematically poisoning our free society.
“The verbal aggression and massive threats against government officials and their families also prove the unconstitutional attitude of this group,” he said.
Seehofer has vowed to tackle racism, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism following a string of deadly hate crime attacks over the past year.
The Reichsbürger movement, or Imperial Citizens’ Movement, denies the existence of the Federal Republic of Germany, the democratic state that was founded in the country after World War II and still governs today. The group believes that the German Empire exists in the form it had back in 1937.
German authorities have monitored the group for unconstitutional activities since 2016.
kp/aw (dpa, AFP)