Two weeks after a gunman killed nine people in two shisha bars in what has become the worst right-wing terrorist attack in post-reunification Germany, MPs debated right-wing extremism in the Bundestag.
While most politicians united in the call for action against racism, Islamophobia, and right-wing violence, MPs from the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) camp not only said politicians were instigating fear for their own political gains but also attempted to condemn left-wing extremism instead.
Bundestag President Wolfgang Schäuble of the conservative CDU opened the debate criticising the government for “having underestimated right-wing extremism for too long”, calling for action to fight against the insurgence of right-wing violence.
“The decisive response to this must be to uncover radical networks by all constitutional means and to smash right-wing extremist associations,” he demanded, adding that the state must “finally become better at consistently enforcing the law.”
“Such madness does not happen in a vacuum…[it occurs] in a poisoned social climate in which resentment towards the foreign and the most absurd conspiracy theories are stirred up,” he noted.
It was the speech of AfD MP Roland Hartwig which first accused other parties of creating a climate of fear and instrumentalising the attacks for their own political gains, as he attempted to shift the debate towards condemning left-wing extremism.
Other AfD politicians followed suit and made similar statements.
In response, the established parties condemned the AfD’s statements, accusing them of adopting toxic rhetoric that drives these acts of violence.
The leader of the SPD’s parliamentary group, Rolf Mützenich, addressed the AfD directly saying that “it may have been a lone perpetrator, but he was carried by a system of humiliation, incitement and instruction to violence. And this trail leads to the Bundestag, with the AfD being an accomplice.”