Security circles warn of the escalation of the protests

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Security circles warn of the escalation of the protests


Saxony-Anhalt’s Minister of the Interior, Holger Stahlknecht, fears another influx for Corona deniers. Politics must counteract more.



© picture alliance / Boris Roessler / dpa
At a rally in front of the Paulskirche in Frankfurt, the participant wears an “aluminum hat” that is popular and often ironic among conspiracy theorists and at which the current corona pandemic was discussed. What the knitting needle attached to the hat is used for is not known. Photo: Boris Roessler / dpa

Politicians and security agencies are increasingly concerned about the growing influx of conspiracy theorists in the corona crisis. “We shouldn’t underestimate that,” said Saxony-Anhalt’s Interior Minister Holger Stahlknecht (CDU) on Sunday the Tagesspiegel. The propaganda against government measures to contain the pandemic “is also represented by bourgeois people, some with morbid trains”. This is used by right-wing extremists and Reich citizens.

Stahlknecht warned that politics should “counter and argue more stringently”. Credibility suffers “when there is a competition for easing, even though the virus has by no means weakened”.

Perplexity creates an “explanatory vacuum”

A high-ranking security expert told Tagesspiegel that given the helplessness of many people about the progress of the corona crisis, there was “an explanatory vacuum”. Right-wing and left-wing extremists pushed in there. The security authorities tried “to give politicians arguments against the conspiracy theories”.

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Minister Stahlknecht, however, does not believe that the fight against conspiracy theories will be a quick success. Dietrich Bonhoeffer had already said that “stupidity is a more dangerous enemy of good than wickedness”. The Protestant theologian was involved in the resistance against the Nazi regime, and in April 1945 he was executed in the Flossenbürg concentration camp.

Coronal deniers, imperial citizens, right and left extremists and unsettled citizens on Saturday in Berlin, Stuttgart, Frankfurt am Main, Cologne, Munich and other cities demonstrated against state restrictions.

In Berlin more than a thousand people came together, in Stuttgart there were thousands on the Cannstatter Wasen. Slogans such as “put off the muzzle”, “traitor” and “we are the people” were chanted.

In Gera, Thuringia’s ex-Prime Minister Thomas Kemmerich (FDP) took part in a protest event, which also included right-wing populists.

Protests could escalate as in the refugee crisis

The security expert interviewed by Tagesspiegel warned that the sometimes irrational resistance to state protection measures could escalate “like the protests in the refugee crisis”. Right-wing extremists, but also many ordinary people with expressions of hate or even had to deal with the swelling influx of refugees in late summer 2015 Attacks on asylum seekers’ accommodation responds. The Federal Criminal Police Office found in 2016 that many perpetrators had not previously been known as extremists.

A foundation of hate

The hate, from which the AfD also benefited, “is still in place as a foundation,” said the security expert. Conspiracy theorists could build on this when agitating against the state. The reach is enormous, “Millions of posts on alternative platforms on the Internet are read by millions”.

Another risk factor in the protests in the corona crisis are “prominent drivers like Xavier Naidoo,” said the expert. Their popularity would accelerate the spread of irrational views.

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Security officials looked closely at the conspiracy theorists, the expert said. He called the association “Resistance 2020”, which now pretends to be a party and claims to have 100,000 members. “This is curd cheese,” said the expert, “but resistance 2020 has a stronger impact on the protests.”

He also mentioned the Reich Citizens’ Group “Constituent Assembly”. She is particularly active in the corona protests. The “Constituent Assembly” considers the Federal Republic to be a “US company” and defames officials as “traitors”.

Secretary of the Federal Ministry of the Interior argues like corona deniers

Meanwhile, the Federal Ministry of the Interior has described an employee’s critical paper on government crisis management as a “private opinion”. The speaker had expressed himself in the 80-page letter in a similar way to corona deniers. He called the handling of the virus a “global false alarm”, the danger was not greater than that of many other viruses.

The speaker distributed the paper with the letterhead of the Ministry of the Interior. That was not acceptable, the Ministry said on Sunday. The man was released from his duties.

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