Verfassungsschutz declares identity movement an object of observation

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Under its new president Haldenwang, the intelligence service is thus continuing its harder course against right-wing extremists.

The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution has intensified its assessment of the racist group “Identitäre Bewegung Deutschland (IBD)”. The BfV announced that the group was “now classified as a secured right-wing extremist effort against the free democratic basic order”. In June 2016, the intelligence service had declared the IDB a “suspected case”; now they are a classic object of observation like other clearly right-wing extremist organisations. The Federal Office can now use intelligence more than in a case of suspicion. These include the use of V-people and the observation of members of a group.

The IBD propagates a rabid rejection of migration called “ethnopluralism”. With spectacular provocations such as the occupation of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin in August 2016, identitarians try to gain attention for their agitation. In spring 2018, identityaries from Germany and other countries on the Franco-Italian border in the Alps blocked the Col de l’Échelle pass to deter refugees from entering Germany. With further actions, the IDB is stirring up fear of refugees and other immigrants, especially if they come from Islamic countries.

The IBD claims that the local population is “exchanged” by the government for refugees and other migrants. The assassin of Christchurch, Brenton Tarrant, also used the slogan “The Great Exchange” to head his Islamophobic manifesto. Tarrant shot 51 people in two mosques on 15 March in the New Zealand city. The Australian right-wing extremist had previously donated money to the Austrian identity holders, who are closely associated with the IDB.

Haldenwang describes the identityaries as “spiritual arsonists

In a statement on the tightened classification of the IDB, BfV President Thomas Haldenwang described the identitarians as “spiritual arsonists”. They questioned “the equality of people or even human dignity itself, talk about alienation, increase their own identity in order to devalue others, and purposefully stir up images of the enemy,” said Haldenwang.

The observation of the IBD had shown “that the suspicious stage had been exceeded”, the BfV said. The positions of the organization are not compatible with the Basic Law. The IBD “ultimately aims to exclude people of non-European origin from democratic participation and to discriminate against them in a way that violates their human dignity”. Multiculturalism as an expression of an ethnically pluralistic society “is considered by the IBD to destroy culture”, said the Federal Office.

The Identitarian Movement now has 600 members in Germany. That is 100 more than in 2017. In spite of their racist attitude, the identitarians verbally distinguish themselves from neo-Nazis in order to be regarded as modern and to bait young, apolitical people. The IBD maintains close ties to parts of the AfD, in particular to its youth organisation “Junge Alternative (JA)”. In January 2019, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution declared the JA to be a “suspicious case”, partly because of contacts with the identities.

With the harder assessment of the IDB, the BfV under its new president Haldenwang continues its energetic course against right-wing extremism. It remains open, however, whether the assessment of the IBD as “secured right-wing extremist” could be the preliminary stage to a ban. Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) had announced after the murder of Walter Lübcke that he would examine the entire right-wing extremist spectrum for possible bans. In June, Seehofer warned emphatically, as now Haldenwang, against the identitarians as “spiritual arsonists”. Even if the IDB “does not yet” draw attention to itself by force, it is “no less dangerous”, the minister emphasized.

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Mette Frederiksen is a The Washington Newsday correspondent. With her coverage of general science, NASA and the interface between technology and society, Frederiksen has been in the Science Desk's Technology Beat since joining Washington Newsday in 2018.

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