Image: Uwe-Karsten Heye
Arnd Wiegmann  /  Reuters
Uwe-Karsten Heye, head of Gesicht Zeigen, which means Show Face, called for measures against anti-Semitic crimes after learning racist attacks were expected to rise this year.
updated 10/24/2006 3:47:51 PM ET 2006-10-24T19:47:51

A leading German anti-racist group said on Tuesday 2006 could see a postwar record for far-right attacks in the country, after police figures showed a rise in such violence earlier this year.

The head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany also called for strong measures against anti-Semitic crimes, which anti-racist group Gesicht Zeigen (Show Face) said had been particularly prevalent during the June-July soccer World Cup in Germany.

Figures from Germany’s BKA federal police, released earlier this month, showed attacks by far-right groups rose 20 percent to 8,000 assaults in the first eight months of 2006 compared with the same period last year.

“I wonder why we only find out in October that 2006 will probably become a sad, record year for right-wing attacks,” Uwe-Karsten Heye, head of Gesicht Zeigen and once spokesman for former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, told a news conference.

The group counted more than 1,000 incidents of an anti-Semitic nature in both June and July, Heye said.

The German government said the recent rise in anti-Semitic violence was worrying.

“The figures emphasize the need for the government’s strong action against this sort of violence,” Germany’s Interior Ministry said in a statement.

Anne Frank diary burned
In July, far-rightists in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt burned the diary of Holocaust victim Anne Frank, causing outrage among German politicians and anti-racist groups.

In another incident only two weeks ago, teenagers in the same state forced a 16-year-old classmate to parade around school wearing a sign with an anti-Semitic Nazi-era slogan.

The German government plans to set aside $30.1 million next year for projects enhancing tolerance and diversity, but has also cut funding for several existing programs on combating racist attacks.

Charlotte Knobloch, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, welcomed the move by the government for further funding, and said especially Germany’s former communist east needed more initiatives against far-right groups.

In September, the National Democratic Party, a far-right group the government has compared to Hitler’s Nazis, won 7.3 percent of the vote in the eastern state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, claiming six seats in the 71-seat regional parliament.

“It is important that police take a strong line against the enemies of democracy,” Knobloch said, calling for drastic measures to combat anti-Semitic crimes.

Copyright 2012 Thomson Reuters. Click for restrictions.

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