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Germany bans extremist group, raids members' homes

By
Don Jacobson
Police officers enter a house Thursday during raids in the south of Berlin, Germany. Photo by Clemens Bilan/EPA-EFE
Police officers enter a house Thursday during raids in the south of Berlin, Germany. Photo by Clemens Bilan/EPA-EFE

March 19 (UPI) -- The German government has banned a far-right extremist group and carried out police raids against its leading members across 10 federal states, the interior ministry announced Thursday.

Ministry spokesman Steve Alter said the group United German Peoples and Tribes is outlawed under German law and the police raids got underway early Thursday.

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"Right-wing extremism, racism and anti-Semitism are relentlessly fought, even in times of crisis," he said.

The raids involved more than 400 emergency officers who searched the homes of 21 leading group members, seizing firearms, baseball bats, propaganda materials and small amounts of narcotics.

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Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said it was the first time the government had moved to ban a right-wing group organized under the umbrella of the larger "Reichsburger," or "Citizens of the Reich" organization, whose members regularly swamp German authorities with lawsuits and occasionally engage in violence.

The organization rejects the modern federal German state as an illegitimate creation of the Allied powers following World War II. Many of its followers subscribe to far-right or anti-Semitic ideologies and embrace debunked conspiracy theories.

"We are dealing with an association that spreads racist and anti-Semitic writings and thus systematically poisons our free society," Seehofer said. "The verbal militancy and massive threats to officials and their families also testify to the anti-constitutional stance of this association."

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Three months ago, Seehofer similarly banned the group Combat 18 and continued a beefed-up response to an increase in right-wing attacks and terrorist incidents in which 13 people have died since last June. The most recent attack occurred in the city of Hanau last month when a German man killed nine migrants at two bars.

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