An anti-racism campaigner in Germany has caused controversy by warning black soccer fans they are risking their lives if they venture into areas where neo-Nazi attacks are on the rise.
Thousands of foreign football supporters are expected to travel to Germany for the tournament which begins on June 9. Uwe-Karsten Heye, head of the anti-racist organisation “Gesicht zeigen”, made particular reference to parts of the state of Brandenburg. It has the highest rate of violent neo-Nazi crime in all of Germany according to a domestic security report.
But Matthias Plateck, prime minister of Brandenburg, said such sweeping statements don’t help anyone.
“They don’t adequately describe the situation and hinder efforts in the fight against right-wing extremism,” he added.
Around 100 people have been killed in far-right violence directed at foreigners since reunification in 1990. Most of the attacks occured in the former east.
Sebastian Edathy from the Bundestag’s Interior Committee, which oversees domestic affairs, says it is best to avoid certain areas at certain times of the day.
“That’s how careful you have to be if you have dark skin,” he said. “It’s bad, we have to address the problem, and I think we should warn people who are coming to Germany.” Two men remain in custody for the savage beating of an Ethiopian-born German citizen in Brandenburg last month which sent shockwaves through Germany. A security zone is being set up for the duration of the World Cup with tens of thousands of soldiers, border controls and closed circuit television.