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Germany suffers white supremacist shooting

by Betül Duru
Wed, Feb 26th 2020 12:00 pm
On Wednesday, Feb. 19, a 43-year-old German man opened fire on people in several different locations, killing nine people in what appears to be a racially motivated act.
On Wednesday, Feb. 19, a 43-year-old German man opened fire on people in several different locations, killing nine people in what appears to be a racially motivated act.

On Wednesday, Feb. 19, nine people were killed in a shooting that took place in two Shisha bars in Hanau, Germany. Prosecutors believe the shooter, Tobias Rathjen, has a right wing background, as the country has been struggling with the rise of right wing extremism in the past few years. 

“The attack took place at multiple locations in the city of Hanau, near Frankfurt. Federal prosecutors are treating the mass shooting — one of the deadliest in Germany in years — as an act of terrorism,” according to CNN World.

The attacks occurred in two bars called Midnight and Arena Bar and Cafe. The bars are 2 kilometers apart from each other and the shootings took place only minutes apart. 

The neighborhood the bars resided in was filled with immigrants of Turkish and Kurdish descent, and those killed were all immigrants. 

“Turks, ethnic Kurds and people with backgrounds from Bulgaria, Bosnia and Romania were among those killed, according to news reports,” according to AP News. “Turkey’s ambassador said five of the dead were Turkish citizens. People of Turkish background make up Germany’s single largest minority.” 

After killing several people in the first bar, Rathjen traveled to the second bar. When he arrived at the second location he proceeded to shoot a car in front of the bar before he went inside and injured six more people, according to the authorities. 

“Witnesses have described how several shots were fired. The attacks happened at around 10 p.m. CET, according to police,”  Euronews reported.

Compared to the United States, obtaining a gun in Germany isn’t as easy. If a citizen wants a gun, there is a thorough vetting process they have to go through.

“He had a license to possess a gun, first issued in 2013, local authorities told Germany’s DPA news agency. Local media reported he owned three 9 mm pistols,” according to AP News. “Some 5.4 million of Germany’s 83 million people have guns. Owners must undergo background checks, including showing that they are not mentally ill.”

When the police went to Ratjen’s house they found him and his 72-year-old mother dead. They both had gunshot wounds, according to the region’s interior minister, Peter Beuth. 

According to Germany’s federal prosecutor Peter Frank, Rathjen had his own website where he would vent his white supremacist perception of ethnic groups and make plans toward extermination. 

“We now have ethnic groups, races or cultures in our midst that are destructive in every respect,” Rathjen wrote according to AP News. “He said he envisioned first a ‘rough cleaning’ and then a ‘fine cleaning’ that could halve the world’s population.” 

The following people must be completely exterminated, he wrote, then went on to list two dozen countries, most of them Muslim. 

Although it seems like Tobias Rathjen didn’t have a partner or any followers, it isn’t clear if he was truly alone. 

“While investigators said it appeared the gunman acted alone, Frank said authorities are trying to find out whether there were others who knew of or supported the attack. He added that his office is looking into any contacts the killer may have had inside Germany or abroad,” AP News reported.

For a while now Germany has been dealing with far right extremists and the Federal prosecutors have taken over this case as they suspect this to be terrorism. 

“Chancellor Angela Merkel said the suspect appeared to have acted out of ‘right-wing extremist, racist motives’ and described hatred as a poison in German society,” according to CNN World. “Prosecutors said the suspect did not have a criminal record but had posted xenophobic conspiracy theories online.” 

Although we are now in 2020, there is a concerning pattern of white nationalism and violence emerging in Europe. It is alarming that something like this happened in a country with gun control. Growing trends of violence and white nationalism are concerning to people everywhere, what can be done in the future so nothing like this happens again is unclear. 

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