German police have registered more than 2 000 election-related criminal offenses, with members of the Alternative for Germany increasingly the target, Die Welt reported on Saturday. The anti-immigration party is being targeted mostly because of its opposition to chancellor Merkel’s liberal immigration policies.
Citing a report by the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), some 2 250 criminal acts related to the coming election have been filed. The police report showed that the AfD was the main target of the attacks. The report said that “worth mentioning are especially candidates of the AfD and their events, which are increasingly affected by reports about damage to property and disturbances”.
On Saturday, a group of camouflaged assailants attacked a group of AfD campaigners in the north-eastern German city of Rostock, a German weekly, Junge Freiheit reported.
All four members of the AfD campaign team were promoting the local candidate Stephan Schmidt, by putting up posters, when they were attacked by five black-clad, hooded attackers armed with bricks.
The AfD campaigners escaped the first assault uninjured, but suffered a second attack a short while later. A van used for the posting of election placards was damaged in the second attack. Up to 15 people were arrested after preventing the election campaigners from doing their work and damage to property.
Even though several attackers had been arrested, they were quickly released, following only a brief detention. Schmidt expressed shock at the brutality displayed in Rostock, saying the naked violence showed a new level of hatred.
The AfD fraction leader in the Schwerin parliament, Leif-Erik Holm, pointed to the left-wing Die Linke and the Greens.
“With this cowardly and sneaky attack in Rostock, the violence against AfD in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern has reached an even worse level. In the past week, and namely after the Rostock incident, we were accused by Die Linke and the Greens, of exploiting the violence against us in our favour, in order to collect more votes from the people, in addition to the accusations that we were unnecessarily resorting to police force”, Holm said.
In Dresden, a 72-year-old AfD supporter was assaulted on Saturday. According to the police, a 39-year-old attacker got out of his car and began assaulting the elderly man. He strangled the victim and continued punching him when he fell to the ground.
The man had to be taken to hospital for treatment. The police has opened an investigation into threats and bodily harm. The attacker also destroyed AfD election pamphlets and threatened seniors standing nearby.
In a Saturday dispute between left-wing extremists and AfD supporters in the city of Münster, three people were injured.
About 20 protesters in total showed up at the AfD election stall, all of them dressed in white and wearing respiratory masks, resulting in a brawl between the campaigners and demonstrators. Two AfD affiliates managed to pepper spray and drive away some of the attackers. The police arrested 10 men and women between the ages of 19 and 57.
Two AfD supporters and one of the attackers were lightly injured in the ensuing skirmishes. In the meantime, the police are investigating allegations of bodily harm by both sides, as well as the violation of the anti-mask law, and an illegal interference with the right to assemble.
Last week, Dirk Spaniel, an AfD Bundestag candidate, was forced to stop his election campaign after being attacked twice by left-wing extremists.
“We find that the city of Stuttgart is no longer a safe place for the election campaign of the AfD. It has simply become too dangerous for the campaigners, therefore we will not carry out any more activities in Stuttgart area. We know that it is exactly what the left extremes wanted to achieve”, Spaniel was reported as saying.
The BKA is responsible for protecting politicians during the election campaign. Die Welt noted that the workload for BKA personnel has gone up significantly for 2017.
According to the latest polls, AfD is expected to receive about 11 percent of the votes.