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German neo-Nazis tell immigrant politicians to go home

Berlin, 23.9.2009 7:08, (ROMEA)

In the run-up to parliamentary elections this weekend in Germany, the extreme-right National Democratic Party (NPD) has sent all candidates of immigrant background a letter telling them to return to their countries of origin. The state prosecutor has begun to investigate the incident as incitement to hatred, according to yesterday’s Tagesspiegel daily.

The NPD is the most successful German nationalist party, with state-level parliamentary representatives in the eastern states of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Saxony. Activists from the German Network against Nazis group say the NPD program is racist and anti-Semitic and that party members include people from neo-Nazi clubs. The German government made an unsuccessful attempt a few years ago to have the party banned.

Tagesspiegel reports that the Berlin branch of the NPD is doing its best to revive its flagging electoral campaign. The letter was sent to the homes of German MPs of Turkish origin as well as other candidates. The two-page communication looks like an official announcement sent by “Your attorney-in-fact for the repatriation of foreigners.” The letter claims to acquaint its recipient “with the details of your journey home” and recommends immigrants start seeking work and housing in their homelands “right away”.

"They have not yet understood that this country is our country too,” said Green Party candidate Özcan Mutlu, who received the letter last weekend. Mutlu said he frequently receives threatening letters and e-mails from right-wing extremists and is used to it. However, this time he is concerned the mailing might frighten some immigrants, as not everyone might realize the letter was just a “cheap electoral trick” of the NPD with no basis in law.

The Berlin branch of the NPD has confirmed that it sent the letter over the weekend. Since the envelopes did not include a sending address, responsibility lies with the head of the Berlin NPD, Jörg Hähnel. He has said other candidates will be sent the party’s “announcement” as well.

Michael von Hagen of the Supreme State Prosecutor’s office said the letter is grounds for suspicion of incitement to hatred. Hähnel has been taken to court twice in the past over similar invectives, but the verdicts in those cases have not yet taken legal effect.

Some analysts say the letter is just part of the NPD strategy to draw attention to themselves at any price prior to the elections. Tagesspiegel reports that the party barely managed to get into the state parliament during recent state-level elections in Saxony, did not succeed in Thuringia, plays no role in the western states, has very little chance of success in Brandenburg, and has no chance of representation at federal level.

ČTK, Gwendolyn Albert, ROMEA, ROMEA, ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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