BERLIN (Reuters) – Offences by those opposed to COVID-19 restrictions drove politically motivated crimes in Germany to a record high last year, an Interior Ministry report showed on Tuesday.
The number of politically motivated crimes jumped by more than 23% from the previous year to 55,048, the highest level since police started collecting the data in 2001.
The increase was primarily due to a rise in “non-classic” politically-motivated offences, or crimes not directly associated with far-left or far-right politics, which accounted for almost 40% of crimes last year, the report showed.
“The terrible climax of this violence was the murder of 20-year-old Alexander at a gas station in Idar-Oberstein by a man who refused to wear a mask,” Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said while presenting the report.
More than 7,000 offences were recorded in connection with COVID-19 restrictions and around 7,300 crimes were related to last year’s federal election, it added.
Violent crimes classified as political in nature rose by 16% year-on-year to 3,889. Far-right offences fell by 7% last year, but still accounted for 41% of crimes.
Anti-Semitic offences rose by 29% to over 3,000 and almost half were committed in connection with the pandemic.
“It is a shame for our country how much anti-Semitic hate speech and contempt for human beings is still being spread today,” Faeser said, adding that a big part of the crimes were related to anti-Semitic conspiracy ideologies.
Last year, Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office classified vaccination opponents and coronavirus deniers as a “relevant risk”.
Concerns have mounted over an increasingly violent pushback against COVID-19 restrictions and vaccination plans after police foiled plots by anti-vaccination activists to murder a state premier in December and to kidnap the health minister last month.
(Reporting by Riham Alkousaa; Editing by Tomasz Janowski)