Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Neo-Nazis and the World Cup

Germany is understandably worried that its neo-Nazis will stage some high-profile outrage during the World Cup.

Over the past year, Nazi and other left-wing extremist violence has been on the increase: in 2005, there were 958 acts of Nazi violence (up from 776 in 2004), whilst leftists committed 896 (up 72% from 2004). In the east, support for the neo-Nazis is about 10% amongst young men. Politicians have been lining up to warn foreigners, especially black ones, to avoid "no-go areas" in Berlin (such as Lichtenberg, Friedrichshain and Marzahn) and the province of Brandenburg which surrounds the capital.

"The slapheads (die Glatzen) mustn't be allowed to spoil our World Cup", said CDU/CSU politician Bosbach, clearly more preoccupied with the PR effects of violence than the violence itself.

In an intriguing but unsurprising development, German Nazis are planning to support Iran's football team during the tournament. This is a "reward" for the Iranian president's call to "wipe Israel from the map." It is unlikely, however, that this new sense of brotherhood will be of much use to Arabic-looking fans who stray into the sights Nazis on the prowl in Lichtenberg. By the same token, the likeliest threat of violence (according to Germany's Home Minister Schäuble), is from Islamist terrorists, whose targetting is notoriously colour-blind, and is as apt to kill Nazis as Muslims.

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