For four years the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) has been monitoring the “Junge Alternative” youth organization of the ethno-populist xenophobic party “Alternative for Germany” (AfD) as closely as ever. The questions that concerned her were whether the party’s youth would continue to be radicalized. To incite campaigns against refugees and immigrants. If they would propagate an ethno-populist view of society and denigrate citizens with an immigrant background as second-class citizens.

Targeted dissemination of hostile images

The BfV’s response to all these questions was positive. This is why the youth organization of the AfD is no longer just a “suspicious organization”, but a demonstrably “extremist entity”, which threatens the constitutional order.

The president of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Thomas Haldenwang, justified the decision as follows: “The targeted dissemination of hostile images and the incitement of indignation in the population are generally capable of preparing the ground for violent behavior.” He also included two other organizations in the same category. These are the “Institute for State Policy” (IfS) and the group “One Percent” (Ein Prozent). In practice, this means that for all three organizations the possibility of targeted surveillance of persons and their electronic communications is increasing.

This was of course possible before. But the possibility that such methods will now be used, after yesterday’s decision, has become even greater. The Agency for the Protection of the Constitution focuses its attention not only on violent extremists, “but also on those groups of people who permanently spread ideologies and perceptions contrary to human dignity and democracy,” Haldenwang emphasizes. The three organizations that have become even more targeted by the authorities aim to exclude foreigners and try to make these positions socially acceptable,” according to the justification, after close monitoring by the Constitution Protection Agency. The next and the last sanction will be the banning of these organizations.

Hard party ban

Why don’t the German authorities proceed directly with the ban? The Ministry of the Interior has already made use of this possibility several times in the case of far-right organizations. But banning a party is one more complicated case. In 2017 an attempt by the Constitutional Court to ban the far-right National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD) failed. The process lasted 4 years and the then president of the Constitutional Court, Andreas Foschule, had expressed doubts as to whether the NPD was a real threat to the German constitutional order. Nevertheless, for the AfD, the characterization of its youth as a proven far-right extremist entity is a danger signal. From March 2022, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) is also able to monitor the party as a whole as a “suspicious case”. The AfD had appealed, without success, against this measure to the Cologne Administrative Court. A little earlier, its then president, Jörg Moyten, resigned and left the party.

As the reason for this move he cited that the Alternative for Germany, which was founded in 2013, has moved into the far right space with totalitarian characteristics and has largely abandoned the territory of the free democratic order. This view has long been shared by the Agency for the Protection of the Constitution, which considers the youth organization of the AfD, the “Junge Alternative”, even more dangerous. Its more general notions of peoples and nations, which are evident in its statements and declarations, are in stark contrast to the German Constitution and can lead to the exclusion of members of other nationalities.

Disqualification due to Muslim origin

Indicative of these perceptions are the sweeping negative attributes they attribute to immigrants with a Muslim background, such as cultural backwardness and a disproportionately high propensity for crime and violence, simply because of origin and religion. The Agency for the Protection of the Constitution also has fundamental doubts about the loyalty of the AfD youth organization to the Constitution. In her opinion, this is demonstrated by a large number of defamatory and disparaging characterizations and actions against political opponents, but also the state and its representatives. According to the BfV, AfD youth are not interested in a meaningful debate on a specific issue, but discredits arrest the democratic system in Germany.

It is no wonder that, according to a Bertelsmann Foundation study published just yesterday, more than one in three German citizens with an immigrant background have experienced racial discrimination against them. Yesterday, the Moabite criminal court in Berlin was expected to hand down its verdict in the trial of three women and three men who allegedly racially abused, beat and kicked the then 17-year-old Dila Segeri Sezer in February 2022 at a Berlin tram stop. Although the girl had already spoken about a racist attack when she called for help, the police initially cited the fact that she was not wearing a protective mask for the pandemic as the reason for the attack. It was only after she released a video from the hospital, in which she tearfully described her experience, that the true facts became known.