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Germany holds state ceremony for Muslims murdered by neo-Nazis

29 February 2012 General 23 Comments Email This Post Email This Post
A neo Nazi carrying a German imperial flag. (AP)

A neo Nazi carrying a German imperial flag. (AP)

Germany holds state ceremony for Muslims murdered by neo-Nazis

by David Crossland

BERLIN // Germany held a state ceremony and observed a nationwide minute of silence yesterday in honour of the 10 people, most of them Muslim shopkeepers, who were shot dead by neo-Nazis during a seven-year killing spree.

Angela Merkel, the chancellor, said the murders, uncovered by chance last November, had brought shame on the nation. She apologised to the families for police errors that critics have blamed on institutional racism.

“The murders were an assault on our country. They are a disgrace to our country,” she told a memorial service in Berlin attended by 1,200 people, including relatives of the victims.

The shootings started in 2000 and continued until 2007, targeting small businessmen including a flower seller, a grocer, a kiosk owner and two doner kebab shop managers.

They happened in cities across Germany, from Munich in the south to Rostock on the north coast, and the same handgun was used each time. A German policewoman was also killed.

Police failed to investigate a possible racist motive, instead suspecting that the families might be involved or that the victims had been caught up in illegal activities.

Authorities found out by accident last November that the murders were committed by a terrorist group calling itself the National Socialist Underground and made up of three neo-Nazis who had been on the run for more than a decade.

Two of them, Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Böhnhardt, committed suicide after a botched bank robbery. A DVD claiming responsibility for all the killings was found in an apartment they had used with the third member, Beate Zschäpe, who was arrested.

The discovery of the trio was a major embarrassment for German security authorities. It exposed them to accusations of having been blind to the threat of far-right violence and preoccupied with Islamist militants since the September 11 attacks.

A parliamentary inquiry has been set up and steps are underway to improve coordination among national and regional intelligence authorities. But critics say deeper change is needed, not only in the organisation of the security services but in the mindset of the police.

“Some of the relatives were themselves under suspicion for years. That is terrible. I ask your forgiveness for that,” said Mrs Merkel. “These years must have been a never-ending nightmare for you,” she said.

For years, the murders were dismissively referred to by the media and the police as the “Doner Killings” because of the stereotype of Turks running kebab shops. The relatives were given little attention.

“Indifference has a creeping but disastrous effect,” said Mrs Merkel. “It drives rifts into our society.”

Turkish immigrants and their descendants make up most of Germany’s almost four million Muslims. Even though the community dates back more than half a century, they are still labelled as “foreigners” by many Germans, and live in parallel communities.

For some, the memorial ceremony was overshadowed by criticism from immigrant groups that the government is not doing enough to fight racism, and by warnings from police that there are further potential terrorists in the country’s far-right, which contains 10,000 people categorised by law enforcement as potentially violent.

“The danger of racism shouldn’t be seen as a peripheral problem or just being linked to neo-Nazi violence,” said Aiman Mazyek, the chairman of the Council of Muslims in Germany.

“Racism, anti-Semitism and hostility to Islam can keep on advancing into the centre of society if we don’t resist that more decisively with all democratic means at our disposal.”

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23 Comments »

  1. great now a llloooonnngggg moment of silence for the innocent killed in the holocaust as usual I cannot spell

  2. I hav heard ppl say who were gentiles in germany during the holocaust say that they had no idea get real do u think I fell off a turnip truck I dont think so

  3. …and a long moment of silence for the holocaust for all the native people of the americas, who were massacred by the europeans….

  4. And Cambodians and NanKing and …..

  5. God rest them all in peace. :(

  6. Germany has such a scarred history… This just adds to it. Heartbreaking.

  7. Reparations is the only answer.

  8. I respect the Germans for coming out and recognizing the victims unlike France that killed 7+ million Algerians between 1830 and 1962 and until now they’re refusing to apologize for their mistakes.

  9. @Mohamed: wow, I wasnt even aware of that. There is too much ugly in the world…

  10. Good for Germany – we might learn a few things from them.

  11. Wow, people can’t let others do good without bringing up the past. Some of these comments on here are pretty pedantic.

  12. @Mary, why do you have to bring up the holocaust? Germany has apologized, paid compensation to the survivors and their families, Hitler is dead, Germany is no longer communist… let’s move on OK?

  13. I question Mohamed’s numbers. According to Wikipedia, the population of Algeria at the beginning of the 20th century was four million. While the French colonialists were undoubtedly brutal pricks, they killed nearly twice the population of the entire country?

  14. this is a Good thing to do…yes, germany appears to have many stormy, tempestuous scars when we speak in terms of its modern history. and the progress is extremely slow in being worked out. that’s right: you cannot go into the future without dealing with the past. in fact, many of our political societies in western europe have many of these same kinds of scars, as so many of them fashioned gleefully racial, and racializing, nation-states (plus one state-nation). we either deal with this stuff, or try as hard as we can to demonize the objects of such processes (a typical tactic).

  15. the best thing that germans who lived through the evil of the third reich can give to the generations to come is to let them know to listen to their conscience. This is a good sign that today’s germans have understood

  16. you mean some of them have….apparently, not all of them can, or do. the seedsof this social proble stem from many centuries previous to the early 20th century (using a gregorian catholic solar calendar).

  17. @ Nehring, you just quoted Wikipedia? Wikipedia?…lol

  18. I hope wikipedia is not were you get all your information….

  19. So – are we going to see yet another Europol report claiming that “there is no right-wing threat” in Europe?!

    Sure — and then they go back to the same ol’ obsession with “jihad” that there is little evidence to support and the chase of phantom “Islamists” that are very few in number.

    Forgetting the growing threat if the radical right and putting one’s head back in the sand is much better for European law enforcement.

  20. I wonder what “Sheikh” Robert Spencer has to say about this lol

  21. may Allah grant them Jannat ul Firdaus inshallah

  22. Roger
    Actually Islam only spread throughout Saudi Arabia at the time of the Prophet. It was under two Caliphs that made it expand to Africa and Southeast Asia. And the four Caliphs actually were very much peaceful, yes there was war, but in places like Iraq under Byzantine’s rule, they wanted Islam, why? It does say in the Quran that we should allow freedom of religion. Just because so many dont practice it, doesnt mean its nottrue.

  23. there should be a massacre of all islamic men guilty of rape of women and children

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