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Merkel: ‘Racism is Poison, Hatred is Poison’

In Berlin, Angela Merkel commemorated the victims of the Hanau attack, which took place a year ago next week. She said right-wing extremism was a “disastrous ideology”.

Berlin, February 14th, 2021 (The Berlin Spectator) — In the evening of February 19th, 2020, Tobias R. went to Heumarkt square in the city center of Hanau, where he started shooting people to death in front of a Shisha bar. All of them were persons with immigrant backgrounds. The shooter did not know any of his victims. His shooting spree continued at Kurt Schumacher square, where he murdered more people at a second Shisha bar.

Clear Motive

On that terrible day, the local police followed the culprit’s vehicle which had been described to them by witnesses. He had used it to go back home, where he shot his mother and himself. When the police officers were done counting bodies, they had a total of eleven of them, including the shooter. The case was treated as an extremist right-wing terror attack with a clear motive, namely racism. Tobias R. was obviously “mentally disturbed”, as the authorities put it. Why else would anyone just murder ten people?

His victims, the nine individuals the murderer did not know, were between 21 and 37 years old. Gökhan Gültekin, Sedat Gürbüz, Said Nesar Hashemi, Mercedes Kierpacz, Hamza Kurtović, Vili Viorel Păun, Fatih Saraçoğlu, Ferhat Unvar and Kaloyan Velkov wanted to have a good time at those bars. All of a sudden, they were robbed of their lives. First, they were talking and enjoying themselves. Then, the next moment, they were gone forever. In Hanau, these nine persons were murdered because they were migrants.

Racist Hatred

A year later, this weekend, Angela Merkel talked about the Hanau attack. The crime had been perpetrated with racist hatred, the German Chancellor stated. “The murderer did not know [his victims]. He just hated them because of the way they looked, because of their families’ origin, because they were immigrants or the children of immigrants”, Merkel said in her weekly podcast.

She stated she would never forget the memorial ceremony she had attended in Hanau, the conversations with the victims’ next of kin or their despair. The horror regarding the attack and the condolence had spread far beyond Hanau. By commemorating the murder victims of Hanau now, a year later, a clear message message would be sent, Angela Merkel said: “We, who want to live together peacefully, right here in Germany, oppose the hatred spread by racists. Murders like this one show what right-wing extremism can lead to.”

Disastrous Ideology

“We have to do our utmost to take the ground from under this disastrous ideology”, Mrs. Merkel told the nation in her podcast. She said a number of measures had been listed by a cabinet committee that was dealing with this kind of extremism and racism. The state’s structures for the fight against right-wing extremism would be strengthened. More support for victims of racist discrimination would be provided.

The Hanau attack had been “an incision for the peaceful coexistence in our society”, and for the solidarity between people in Germany, no matter what their origin or their religion was, Angela Merkel stated. “Racism is poison. Hatred is poison. We are opposing those who are trying to divide Germany, with all out might and resolve.”

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