German officials condemn Hanau attack

NEWS 20.02.2020 12:46
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Source: REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski

Germany's president, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, has released a statement Thursday condemning the "racist hatred" believed to have motivated Wednesday night's terrorist attacks in Hanau.

“I was horrified to learn of the terrorist act in Hanau. My deep grief and sympathy go out to the victims and their relatives. I wish the injured a speedy recovery. I stand by all people who are threatened by racist hatred. You are not alone. I am convinced that the vast majority of people in Germany condemn this act and all forms of racism, hatred and violence. We will not let up to stand up for peaceful coexistence in our country. “

A gunman shot dead nine people in two shisha bars in the German city of Hanau.

The suspected gunman has been found dead at his home along with the body of his mother, authorities said Thursday. He left a confession letter and a video, according to CNN affiliate RTL, citing police.

There are indications the gunman had a far-right motive, according to German federal prosecutors.

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has tweeted that if Wednesday night’s shooting were motivated by far-right politics, then it would be the third far-right act of terrorism in a year.

“If the suspicion is confirmed, the gruesome act in Hanau is the third extreme right-wing murder attack in Germany in a year … Right-wing terrorism has again become a threat to our country. There is absolutely nothing to put into perspective. #Hanau.”

Speaking in Berlin on Thursday afternoon, Chancellor Angela Merkel described the shootings as “devastating crimes” and compared them to the murder of a pro-refugee German politician last summer.

Walter Lübcke was killed in his home by a suspect who had previously said that Lübcke’s pro-refugee stance was a motivating factor in why he committed the murder. He later retracted the confession and said that another individual was responsible for the shooting.

Speaking more broadly about the rise of far-right politics in Germany in recent years, Merkel said “racism is poison, hatred is poison.”

“It is still too early for a final evaluation. Everything is being done to clear up the background of these horrible murders to the last detail.

But at present, there is much evidence that the perpetrator acted out of right-wing extremist, racist motives. Out of hatred against people of other origins, other beliefs or other outward appearances. Racism is a poison, hatred is a poison,” Merkel said.

“I think now especially of the families and friends of the murdered,” she added. “None of us can measure the suffering that the perpetrators brought upon them. I mourn with them and express my deepest sympathy.”