German government accused of manipulating data to suggest rise in ‘right-wing attacks on refugee homes’

By Thomas Brooke
4 Min Read

Germany’s Federal Ministry of the Interior has been accused of exaggerating the number of attacks by suspected right-wing extremists on asylum centers.

An investigation by the German news outlet Nius found that just eight of the 80 cases reported by Interior Minister Nancy Faesar’s department in the first half of 2023 were direct attacks on inhabited asylum accommodations, and just one case had been attributed to a known suspect with right-wing sympathies.

Nius published the findings of its investigation on Monday, having spoken to the relevant local police departments and public prosecutors to ascertain the facts of individual cases included in the federal department’s figures.

Of the eight attacks on asylum accommodations corroborated by the news outlet, six of the cases had no known suspect, yet all cases had been assigned to right-wing perpetrators. Five of the attacks in question pertained to the smashing of windows, while there was one case of arson. In the last confirmed attack, the suspect was a Syrian national who attacked a Lebanese security guard outside an asylum center and was lumped into the category of right-wing extremism by the interior ministry.

This means that 90 percent of the cases the department claims were right-wing attacks on asylum centers did not involve inhabited accommodations, and just one in 80 cases was a confirmed attack at an inhabited refugee center by right-wing suspects. This one relates to an incident in Teterow on June 6 when three drunken German nationals attacked a security guard and set off firecrackers at a premises being used to house refugees.

Nius provides a case summary of every incident detailed by the ministry. A majority of the cases have no known suspect but are labeled as right-wing attacks, while other tenuous links used to categorize incidents as examples of right-wing extremism include the spraying of graffiti on uninhabited refugee centers and, in one case, a German suspect who is said to have made inflammatory statements toward a person of another nationality.

In one instance, a 59-year-old who insulted a police officer during a demonstration in Schleusingen on May 10 was included in the figures, despite the town having no refugee center and there being no involvement of any refugee accommodation or asylum seekers.

Similarly, on June 26, a case of right-wing extremism against refugees involved a fire in a garbage can in Beckum, which the local police stated was “near a refugee home.” The authorities told Nius that there was “no damage to buildings or people” and “there is still no suspect.”

The investigation flies in the face of the narrative pushed by Germany’s Federal Minister Nancy Faeser who has recently attempted to link a perceived rise in anti-refugee sentiment to the surge in popularity of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which currently sits second in opinion polls.

Faeser labeled the party in June as “intellectual arsonists who prepare the ground for violence” and told reporters in Berlin that “right-wing extremism remains a continuing challenge, as it is the greatest extremist threat to the basic democratic order.”

The statistics used by her department to substantiate her claims were labeled by the Nius investigation as “grossly incorrect and untenable,” and “provide a completely distorted picture of reality.”

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