Zwickau: German Chancellor Angela Merkel (second right) pictured after laying flowers at a memorial for victims of a neo-Nazi group, Nationalist Socialist Underground, on Monday.—AP
Zwickau: German Chancellor Angela Merkel (second right) pictured after laying flowers at a memorial for victims of a neo-Nazi group, Nationalist Socialist Underground, on Monday.—AP

BERLIN: German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government on Monday strongly condemned death threats against two leading Green party politicians by a neo-Nazi group, as concern mounts over a rise in right-wing extremism.

Greens lawmaker Cem Ozdemir, who has Turkish roots, revealed at the weekend that police were investigating an email he had received from a neo-Nazi group saying he was at the top of their kill list.

“We are currently planning how and when to execute you. At the next rally? Or will we get you outside your home?” the email read, according to the Funke newspaper group.

Fellow Greens MP Claudia Roth received a message saying she was second in line to be killed.

Both emails were sent on October 27 and signed with “Nuclear Weapons Division Germany” (AWD), apparently a German offshoot of a notorious US-based neo-Nazi group.

“The German government clearly condemns any kind of threats or violence against politicians,” Merkel’s spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer told reporters.

“We cannot and will not accept these attacks on our free democratic system,” she said, vowing to use the full force of the law against the perpetrators.

Speaking at the same press conference, interior ministry spokesman Steve Alter said federal security services “have already had this group in their sights for some time”.

The American version of the AWD, founded in 2015-2016, has been linked to five murders in the United States, he added.

Published in Dawn, November 5th, 2019