Jewish leader reacts to right-wing violence


Following a violent attack by some 50 right-wing extremists in the state of Saxony, Jewish leaders are urging renewed efforts to combat xenophobia in former east German states.

The attack on Aug. 19 landed several people of Indian background in the hospital with serious injuries.

Foreigners are not safe in parts of former east Germany, said Stephan Kramer, general secretary of the Central Council of Jews in Germany.

Though witnesses reported that perpetrators shouted, “Foreigners out,” local politicians insisted that right-wing extremism was not a local problem.

Such incidents, and the official response to them, was no surprise, Kramer told the Netzeitung Internet news agency Wednesday. He suggested renewed public debate on the issue of “no-go areas” for foreigners, an issue brought up by former German government spokesperson Uwe-Karsten Heye in the summer of 2006 before the World Cup games.

Kramer said it was “not hysteria” to warn people to avoid certain areas. Rather, the danger is a “bitter fact” confirmed by repeated incidents. “Yesterday, people of color. Today, foreigners. Tomorrow gays and lesbians, or maybe Jews,” he said.

A 16-member team has been established to investigate the recent incident in Muegeln.

The number of right-wing extremist crimes rose from 1,334 in 2004 to 2,064 in 2006 in the former East German state.

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