Nine people were killed in the German city of Hanau after a gunman opened fire in a shisha bar. The attacker, whom authorities say had a “right-wing extremist background,” is thought to have targeted areas frequented by immigrants.
Mabel Berezin, professor of sociology at Cornell University, is an expert on far-right politics and the history and development of populism and fascism in Europe. Berezin is author of “Illiberal Politics in Neoliberal Times: Cultures, Security, and Populism in a New Europe” and “Europe Without Borders.”
“The murder of nine persons in a bar favored by Muslim migrants is another iteration of the sea change that is occurring in German political culture where taboo breaking has become a norm.
“After World War II, Nazism and right-wing culture of any sort was banned in Germany. The taboo against the extreme right began to break down with the emergence of the far-right party the Alternative for Germany (AFD) in 2015. The AFD hardly existed as a political party. But three weeks ago Germany’s center right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) allied with it in local elections in Thuringia to oust a center left wing premier.
“The political legitimation of right-wing parties such as AFD has left an open space for unallied freelance right-wing extremists to carry out hate attacks against outgroups without the restraints of political party affiliation. Hate is increasingly no longer taboo in Germany and we can expect more violence.”