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Torched car. Photo: AfD

Leftist foundation employee caught in arson attack against AfD

In the Berlin suburb of Neukölln, the car of an AfD politician was set on fire. The police caught a suspect, a former employee of the Amadeu Antonio Foundation.

Published: February 1, 2019, 1:33 pm

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    The Foundation has distanced itself from the arson attack which happened late on Wednesday evening when the car of AfD politician Tilo P in Neukölln was set alight by three men.  One of the suspects was caught by a civilian police patrol after the car belonging to a board member of the AfD district association in Neukölln was torched.

    According to information obtained by German daily Tagesspiegel, the 39-year-old is an expert on “right-wing extremism” and author who is a member of the Amadeu Antonio Foundation.

    The Foundation, established in 1998, actively hounds conservatives, with ex-Stasi member Anetta Kahane appointed as its chairwoman.

    The Antonio Foundation quickly tried to distance themselves from the suspect, saying that he had never been employed by the Foundation but had worked on a fee basis. In a tweet, the Foundation also strongly condemned the attack.

    The Foundation has meanwhile deleted the name of the man from their online site.

    The suspect was a contributor to the Federal Agency for Civic Education (BPB) too. According to the BPB of 2014, he worked for projects of the Association for Democratic Culture in Berlin (VDK). On Thursday his other employers also distanced themselves from the suspect stating that he had already stopped working for them “for a while”.

    At around 11:30 pm on Wednesday, plainclothes police officers in Neukölln noticed three men circling a block of flats on bicycles. According to police, they stopped in a courtyard where a car was parked. One of the men is said to have fiddled with the vehicle, whereupon all three quickly left. The police followed the trio and caught the suspect.

    The fire brigade was called and the suspect was taken to a detention center and handed over to state security. On Thursday afternoon, the man was released however. The investigation continues, according to the police, and he remains a suspect. But the man’s lawyer told the Tagesspiegel that “there is no concrete suspicion” and the prosecution has not applied for an arrest warrant.

    The Berlin AfD demanded that the subsidies of the Amadeu Antonio Foundation be stopped in response to the arson attack. “This process proves that the fight against conservatives is conducted by the state with unfair means,” said spokesman Ronald Glaeser. “The transition from so-called democracy promotion to street fighting is tacit. The consequence can only be to deprive all these clubs of the means and also their moral support.”

    In Berlin, attacks are mounting on parties and politicians. According to preliminary police figures, there were at least 36 attacks on party bureaus last year. In at least 20 cases, left-wing extremists are the suspects.

    The Foundation carries out strategies against conservatives, providing financial and administrative support for initiatives immediately prior to local, state or federal elections.

    It also maintains “networks” to promote alternative youth cultures and communities, with more than 770 initiatives and projects to advance “a democratic culture and the rights of minorities”.

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