“We strongly reject the instrumentalization attempts of Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann (CSU), SPD presidential candidate Karl Lauterbach and other politicians,” she said. This “baseless defamation” will split society and weaken the democratic foundation of the country.
AfD national spokesman Alexander Gauland called the allegations “infamy”. They do not live up to the seriousness of the situation, and the AfD sees itself united with all democratic forces in the fight against anti-Semitic terror and extremist violence, Gauland noted. “Our sympathy and full solidarity is especially with the Jewish community in Halle and the Jewish community throughout Germany,” he said.
His co-chairman Jörg Meuthen asserted that Jewish life in Germany was and will always be an elementary component of German identity. He hoped that the perpetrator would receive the highest possible punishment.
Several politicians of other parties and celebrities maintained that the AfD shared complicity in the act. In addition to Lauterbach and Herrmann, the former deputy chairman of the Central Council of Jews, Michel Friedman, sharply attacked the party and its constituents and accused them of “intellectual arson” without any factual justification.
The candidate for the post of SPD chairman, Michael Roth, even called the AfD a “political arm of right-wing terrorism”. Roth, who is the Minister of State for Europe at the German Federal Foreign Office in the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel, said the party must clarify its relationship “with those who prepare the ground by hate and incitement for such terrible acts”.
He said he found “all these excuses, why you think the AfD is allowed to vote” too difficult to bear. Voters must “finally understand that they [the AfD] support enemies of democracy, racists, xenophobes, anti-Semites, hate preachers, anti-Gypsies and homophobes”. He added that German domestic intelligence services should be watching the party closely.
The victims, reportedly a German man and woman, were not Jews, according to The Times of Israel. They were chosen at random when the assailant failed to gain access to the synagogue because the frightened congregation had barricaded itself inside. The gunmen also wounded two other people in a nearby town before he was arrested.
Notably after the Christmas market terror attack in 2016 on Berlin’s Breitscheidplatz, the political leaders of the country and especially the Chancellor avoided the scene, the assassination victims and terror survivors. They never received a handshake from the Angela Merkel nor even one word of sympathy from the leadership.
There has been another rather interesting development in terms of state funding for the Amadeu Antonio Foundation following the attack in Halle. The spokeswoman for the Foundation, Viola Schmidt, told Deutschlandfunk that the government should consistently support their work against “right-wing extremism” to avoid such acts.
The Federal Ministry for Family Affairs quickly announced that it will be providing more money in the future. Originally, they were planning to cut the budget for the programme called “Living Democracy”. For the federal budget of 2020, €107,5 million was earmarked which is €8 million less than in 2019.
But now this reduction is suddenly off the table. This was agreed by Federal Family Minister Franziska Giffey and Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (both SPD). “This ensures that more than 115 million euros will be available in the coming year for the implementation of Germany’s largest and Europe’s unique democracy support program,” said Giffey on Friday.
“With our program ‘Living Democracy!’ we support the committed people in Germany, who face daily anti-Semitism and right-wing extremism on the ground and advocate for democracy, religious freedom and a diverse society.”
According to Germany’s Federal Prosecutor, the suspect says he was motivated by “a right-wing extremism and anti-Semitism”. The 27-year-old allegedly wanted to kill people of Jewish faith, but instead, he killed two Germans.