Racism and hatred are a poison – Merkel reacts to shooting

epa08231367 German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a Round Table during a Special European Council meeting in Brussels, Belgium, 20 February 2020. EU heads of state or government gather for a special meeting to discuss the EU?s long-term budget for 2021-2027. EPA-EFE/OLIVIER HOSLET

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German and world leaders condemned on Thursday the deadly shootings in Hanau and pledged to fight against those who try to divide society along ethnic lines.

Speaking Thursday in Berlin, Merkel said “everything will be done to investigate the circumstances of these terrible murders” but that much indicated they were motivated by far-right and racist motives.

In unusually plain words, Merkel said: “Racism is a poison. Hatred is a poison.”

Merkel’s comments were echoed by Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, Germany’s defence minister: “It is important to clarify the background now and to lead the political debate, what kind of poison does what we have seen here make in our society?”

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz condemned the Hanau attack in a statement made from Brussels.

“It was a terrible, right-wing terror attack that took place in Germany,” he said. “It also shows us that it is important that we fight against all forms of radical ideologies in Europe.”

The suspect, who German authorities are now referring to as Tobias R., was a member of a local shooting club, where he trained up to three times a week, the president of the SV Diana Bergen-Enkheim shooting club in the district of Bergen-Enkheim has confirmed.

“He was totally inconspicuous,” President Claus Schmidt said. “There wasn’t the slightest hint of racism or xenophobia, not even a weird joke.”

The alleged shooter was granted a gun license in 2013 and registered ownership of a weapon one year later, according to information from regional authorities in the Main-Kinzig district of Gelnhause in Hesse.

Two weapons are currently registered to the license, which was last reviewed in 2019. Such reviews include measures such as checking whether the weapons are stored properly.

Chairman of Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office Sebastian Fiedler said there are “significant parallels” between the attacks in Hanau and past shootings seen in Halle, Germany and Christchurch, New Zealand.

All cases have involved people “who cling to crude, far-right, racist ideologies or even ideologies they’ve made up themselves,” he told German broadcaster SWR.

Via Euronews / DW

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