German Jewish leader threatened after criticizing far-right

Jewish community leader in Germany says she is targeted with threats and hate mail after saying AfD is a threat to democracy.

Ben Ariel,

Members of AfD party
Members of AfD party
Reuters

A Jewish community leader in Germany said on Thursday she had been targeted with threats and hate mail "almost by the minute" since criticizing the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, AFP reported.

Charlotte Knobloch had in Wednesday called, in a speech about Holocaust victims, the AfD a threat to democracy, sparking a walk-out of the party’s regional politicians.

A day later, Knobloch, 86, told a local newspaper that "since then, I have received coarse verbal abuse, threats and insults by email and telephone almost by the minute".

"The danger the party and its supporters spell for our liberal democracy has become more than clear and this shows more than ever that the democrats in our country must stand united against them," she was quoted as having told the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper.

Knobloch, a former leader of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, now heads the community in the Bavarian city of Munich.

She added that she "had expected the AfD to use the Bavarian state parliament for self-promotion -- I just hadn't expected a row of such proportions".

The AfD captured nearly 13 percent of the vote and almost 100 seats in parliament in the election in September of 2017.

The party opposes multiculturalism, Islam and the immigration policies of Chancellor Angela Merkel, whom it labels a "traitor".

AfD has a history of controversial statements, particularly surrounding the Holocaust. Party member Bjoern Hoecke caused a firestorm in February of 2017 when he suggested that Germany should end its decades-long tradition of acknowledging and atoning for its Nazi past.

He also criticized the Holocaust memorial in Berlin, saying, "We Germans, our people, are the only people in the world who have planted a monument of shame in the heart of the capital.”

Germany's vice chancellor, Sigmar Gabriel, blasted Hoecke over the remarks, as did Germany's Central Council of Jews.

Hoecke ultimately apologized for his controversial remarks. In June of 2018, AfD leaders ended a drive to have him expelled.

Party co-leader Alexander Gauland last year described the Nazi period as a mere "speck of bird poo in over 1,000 years of successful German history".

He had previously asserted, however, that Jews should not fear the strong election showing by AfD and indicated that he was ready to meet with German Jewish leaders “at any time.”




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