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Increase in right-wing and anti-Semitic crimes in Saxony-Anhalt


The increase in anti-Semitic and incitement crimes in 2020 can be explained, among other things, by the context of protests against the Corona containment measures in Saxony-Anhalt. These are dominated and organized in Halle, Magdeburg and in the Burgenland district by structures and individuals of the extreme right. The protests against the Corona policy have become considerably more radicalized over the course of the last year. This is accompanied by a high propensity for violence and aggression among some participants, as the recent escalations at the Querdenken rally in Kassel have shown once again. Moreover, in the interpretation of the Corona pandemic, anti-Semitic patterns of interpretation are omnipresent both in the protests and in social media. In conjunction with the increasing spread of conspiracy myths, anti-Semitic crimes are thus encouraged and legitimized. In Saxony-Anhalt, a central role is played by the right-wing activist Sven Liebich, who appears with his supporters at protest activities throughout the state. In the process, he repeatedly threatens members of the media and actors in counter-protests.

Already at the end of March 2020 - i.e. immediately after the beginning of the first "lockdown" - protests against the Corona containment ordinances of the federal and state governments could be observed in Saxony-Anhalt. From the beginning, representatives of the far-right milieu played a key role in the organization and political communication as well as on the streets and on the Internet. In Halle, Magdeburg and in the Burgenland district, the organization of the protests was completely taken over by people and structures from the extreme right within a short period of time. This led to a radicalization, in the course of which criticism of individual measures and restrictions on fundamental rights was no longer the sole focus. In social networks, on banners carried along and in speeches at the rallies, reference was regularly made to anti-Semitic, conspiracy ideological and right-wing extremist content.

Right-wing extremist actors from Saxony-Anhalt also appeared nationally in the context of the Corona protests. For example, on November 7, 2020, a meeting of the "Querdenken" movement was registered in Leipzig by a neo-Nazi from Saxony-Anhalt. There, about 20,000 people followed the call under the slogan "We for the Basic Law".

Anti-Semitic interpretations of the pandemic and its alleged perpetrators are omnipresent in the imagery of the banners and slogans at "Querdenken. These include posters showing celebrities from politics, the media and academia dressed as prisoners. In addition, there are historically trivializing equations of the Corona-related restrictions with the persecution and murder of Jews under National Socialism.

The mobilization against the Corona measures can be assessed in Saxony-Anhalt as a protest format that is right-wing extremist at its core.

It is unmistakable that ideological overlaps exist between the various protest milieus. They lie in the approval of anti-liberal, anti-science and authoritarian attitudes. At the same time, actors of "lateral thinking" act actionistically and across milieus. They create a protest composition that did not exist in this form before. Thus, in the course of the pandemic, an unprecedented closing of ranks occurred between openly appearing representatives of the extreme right and structures and individuals who had previously been considered bourgeois and who had consistently avoided proximity to openly right-wing extremist structures.

The number of thematic rallies and public gatherings, such as vigils or walks, exceeds those of the right-wing extremist gatherings of the past years many times over. Thus, from the end of March to the end of December 2020 alone, we could count almost 600 gatherings related to the scene of Corona deniers*. In addition to various conspiracy ideologues, all spectrums of the extreme right - from AfD, NPD and Reichsbürger*innen to völkisch neo-Nazis - were represented.