German city declares a ‘Nazi emergency’ over rise in far-right extremism

The German city of Dresden has passed a resolution aimed at protecting minorities amid growing concern about far-right extremism and anti-immigration sentiment.

The resolution dubbed as “Nazi emergency” acknowledges that “right-wing extremist attitudes and actions… are occurring with increasing frequency” and calls on the city to help victims of far-right violence, protect minorities and strengthen democracy.

Councillor Max Aschenbach, who tabled the motion said the city council’s commitment to fostering “a free, liberal, democratic society that protects minorities and resolutely opposes Nazis.”

The resolution was approved by 39 votes to 29, with Germany’s governing Christian Democrats (CDU) among those to have rejected it. The CDU described the resolution as “pure political symbolism” and said the strong wording was a “linguistic error”.

Germany’s liberal Free Democrats (FDP) backed the legislation, but one councillor criticised the term “Nazi emergency”.

Kai Arzheimer, a German politics professor who has written extensively on far-right extremism, said the resolution’s main impact was symbolic, but that it could mean that more money would be allocated to programmes combating extremism in the future.

Dresden, the capital of Saxony, has long been viewed as a bastion of the far-right and is the birthplace of the anti-Islam Pegida (Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the West) movement. The state of Saxony has also long been a stronghold of the far-right National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD) and later the far-right Alternative for Germany (AFD) party.

Pegida supporters say people need to “wake up” to the threat of Islamist extremists. They want Germany to curb immigration and accuse the authorities of failing to enforce existing laws.

The movement has spurred large counter-rallies in the city.

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