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Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni expressed her frustration and disappointment to her Brothers of Italy (FdI) party members following investigative reports showing the party’s youth wing engaging in fascist salutes and using racist and antisemitic language. In a letter, Meloni asserted that there is no place in FdI for racism, antisemitism, or nostalgia for totalitarian regimes, condemning such behavior as detrimental to the party’s mission.

The reports by the investigative outlet Fanpage involved undercover journalists who captured National Youth wing (Gioventù Nazionale – GN) members chanting fascist and Nazi slogans. Subsequent footage revealed members making derogatory remarks about disabled individuals, along with racist and antisemitic comments. Following the exposé, some former GN members came forward to confirm similar behaviors in local branches.

Prominent GN members implicated in the investigation, such as Elisa Segnini and Flaminia Pace, resigned from their positions after their involvement was revealed. Holocaust survivor and Italian senator Liliana Segre condemned the resurfacing of such rhetoric, expressing distress over witnessing it again at her age.

Minister Luca Ciriani of FdI claimed the reports were based on out-of-context, fragmented images taken privately, while Senate President Ignazio La Russa condemned the GN’s language, asserting it contradicted the party’s values. Although Meloni initially criticized Fanpage’s methods and questioned the fairness of targeting only FdI, she acknowledged the incompatibility of racist, antisemitic, or nostalgic ideas with the party’s principles.

Opposition senator Simona Malpezzi argued that Meloni should have praised the journalists for uncovering the serious issues within GN and distanced herself from the implicated members. Meloni had previously lauded GN’s young supporters, describing them as rare and valuable for their political engagement.

Since leading a right-wing coalition and becoming Italy’s prime minister in 2022, Meloni has faced numerous controversies related to the far-right roots of Brothers of Italy, tracing back to the Italian Social Movement (MSI) founded by Mussolini supporters post-World War II. In June, a spokesperson for a key Meloni ally resigned over racist and antisemitic remarks in wiretapped communications.

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French President Emmanuel Macron has raised serious concerns about the growing threat of antisemitism in schools after a 12-year-old Jewish girl was raped in what police have classified as a hate crime. According to French media, the girl reported being in a park in Courbevoie, north-west of Paris, with a friend last Saturday when three boys, two aged 13 and one aged 12, approached her. She knew at least one of them. The boys dragged her to an isolated location, where they hurled antisemitic abuse at her and raped her.

The boys were arrested on Monday, and two of them were charged with gang rape, antisemitic insults and violence, and issuing death threats. One of the attackers reportedly threatened to kill the girl if she went to the police. In response to the attack, people took to the streets on Wednesday to protest against antisemitism, carrying banners with messages such as “It could have been your sister.”

Macron addressed the attack during a Council of Ministers meeting on Wednesday. He asked the Minister of Education, Nicole Belloubet, to ensure that schools hold discussions on racism and antisemitism in the coming days to prevent “hateful speech with serious consequences” from “infiltrating” classrooms. Belloubet later condemned the crime on social media, stating that “every part of this crime is revolting.” Prime Minister Gabriel Attal called the attack “absolutely despicable, unbearable, and unspeakable,” noting that antisemitism has been on the rise in France since October 7.

Chief Rabbi of France Haim Korsia expressed horror at the incident and called for the perpetrators to be firmly punished. He emphasized that no one can be excused from the current surge in antisemitism. A January 2024 report by the Council of Jewish Institutions in France (CRIF) highlighted a 284% increase in antisemitic acts between 2022 and 2023, with nearly 13% occurring in schools. The report noted a significant spike in such incidents following the October 7 Hamas attacks against communities in Israel.

The attack and the rise in antisemitism come amid a heated election campaign in France, after President Macron called a snap parliamentary election two weeks ago. Politicians from various parties quickly condemned the incident and vowed to combat antisemitism.

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In Germany, trials have begun for individuals allegedly connected to a coup plot involving a German aristocrat, a significant arsenal of weapons, and the belief that Queen Elizabeth II’s death was a covert “signal” to act. These individuals are associated with the Reichsbürger movement, which denies the legitimacy of the modern German state, claiming it was installed by the Allied powers after World War II.

The most high-profile trial is taking place in Frankfurt, following extensive raids across the country in 2022. This trial, one of three, is crucial for understanding far-right networks due to its scale and potential insights.

The Reichsbürger movement, comprising around 23,000 followers, espouses antisemitic views and a strong affinity for weapons. Authorities allege that members plotted to violently overthrow the German government, planning to storm the national parliament in Berlin and arrest MPs on a so-called “Day X”. The indictment suggests they even debated if Queen Elizabeth II’s death was a signal to act.

A key figure in the trial is Heinrich XIII Prince Reuss, a 72-year-old former real estate developer from Frankfurt and a descendant of the aristocratic House of Reuss. He allegedly hosted the group’s ‘central council’ meetings and was designated as the future ‘head of state’ post-coup. He was also reportedly involved in attempts to establish contact with Moscow, appearing at the Russian consulate in Leipzig.

Another notable defendant is Birgit Malsack-Winkemann, a former judge and member of the far-right Alternative for Deutschland party. She allegedly used her parliamentary access to help co-conspirators scout government buildings and was slated to manage the justice department in the new regime.

Prosecutors claim the group intended to reorganize Germany’s political structure by taking over institutions at both state and local levels, aware that this might require violence. Their central council would have coordinated these efforts, supported by a ‘military arm’ comprising 286 units tasked with enforcing the new order nationwide.

The indictment reveals the group’s access to a substantial cache of weapons, including firearms, ammunition, night vision devices, and handcuffs, and financial resources of around 500,000 euros. Members reportedly became increasingly isolated from the outside world over time.

Jan Rathje, a senior researcher at the extremism monitoring agency CeMAS, notes that such conspiratorial, sovereigntist movements trace back to desires among some former Nazis to reestablish a National Socialist German Reich. He warns that the Reichsbürger movement, with its violent far-right tradition, has been dangerously underestimated, emphasizing that, despite the coup’s likely failure, it could have caused significant harm. The symbolic impact of a violent strike against the government could have emboldened radical forces by portraying the government as weak.

The trials are being conducted in Stuttgart, Frankfurt, and Munich due to the case’s complexity and size.

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French police have killed a man after a synagogue was set on fire in Rouen, a city in north-western France. The man, armed with a knife and a metallic tool, was shot after he threatened officers, as confirmed by the Rouen prosecutor.

Rouen Mayor Nicolas Mayer-Rossignol expressed that the attack not only affected the Jewish community but left the entire city “battered and in shock.” French reports identified the suspect as an Algerian who was appealing against an expulsion order from France.

The incident occurred around 06:45 (04:45 GMT) when smoke was seen rising from the synagogue. The attacker used a petrol bomb to ignite the synagogue. Police officers quickly arrived on the scene after the suspect was spotted on security cameras. The suspect, who was on the roof of the synagogue, threatened the officers and threw a chisel at them before descending and brandishing a knife. One officer then fired five shots, hitting the suspect four times, according to Rouen public prosecutor Frédéric Teillet.

Firefighters managed to control the fire, but significant damage was reported inside the synagogue. Natacha Benhaïm, head of Rouen’s Jewish community, described the damage as catastrophic, though the Torah books remained unharmed.

Investigations are underway into the arson attack and the use of a police weapon. Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin commended the police for their prompt and brave response. The suspect, a 29-year-old Algerian, carried no identification at the time of the attack.

This incident follows a rise in antisemitism in France since Hamas’ attack on southern Israel in October, leading to the current war in Gaza. Recent antisemitic acts include defacing a Paris memorial honoring those who rescued Jews during World War Two. President Emmanuel Macron condemned the defacement, emphasizing the importance of remembering France’s heroes and Holocaust victims.

France, home to the third largest Jewish community globally, has seen various attacks on places of worship, including the fatal stabbing of a priest during a church service eight years ago. The recent violence in Rouen also comes shortly after an ambush that resulted in the deaths of two prison officers south of the city.

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German authorities have apprehended two teenagers, aged 15 and 16, under suspicion of planning a militant Islamist attack on either a Christmas market or synagogue. The younger individual, a German-Afghan from Burscheid, was taken into custody after a search of his residence, while the 16-year-old, described as a Russian national, was detained in Wittstock/Dosse. The alleged seriousness of the plot prompted police intervention, as the boys had specified a time and place for the potential attack.

The targeted location initially mentioned in reports was Cologne, southwest of Burscheid, but subsequent information suggested it might be the nearby city of Leverkusen. The suspects had reportedly exchanged information on the Telegram messaging app, discussing the use of homemade incendiary devices or a van to carry out their plans. The arrests come amid concerns about a heightened risk of Islamist militant attacks in Germany, with authorities acting on a tip from abroad regarding a potential threat involving an individual from North Rhine-Westphalia.

The arrests unfolded as Thomas Haldenwang, the head of Germany’s Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), warned of an increased risk of Islamist militant attacks. Haldenwang linked this elevated threat to the Israel-Hamas conflict and highlighted the potential for attacks on Jewish, Israeli individuals, and institutions in the West. He emphasized that various groups were spreading hatred, incitement, and antisemitism, with jihadist groups like al-Qaeda and Islamic State exploiting the situation to convey a victim narrative to Muslims in the West. The intelligence chief underscored the urgency of the situation, stating that an attack could happen in Germany at any time.

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In an unprecedented turn of events in Paris this weekend, a significant demonstration took place in response to the Israel-Hamas conflict, drawing representatives from major political parties. Notably, the far right, including Marine Le Pen and Jordan Bardella of the National Rally, participated, while the far left, led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon of France Unbowed, boycotted the event, citing it as a gathering for supporters of the Gaza massacre.

This shift is symbolic, considering historical political dynamics in France. Traditionally, the far right was ostracized due to its perceived anti-Republican views, especially on Jewish issues. The far left, on the other hand, despite criticism, remained part of the broader political spectrum. However, the current scenario reflects a shake-up in the political landscape.

The contemporary far right in France, now labeled as “hard right” or “national right,” has shifted focus from past anti-Semitic stances to prioritize issues such as immigration, insecurity, and Islamism, aligning with some Jewish perspectives. Meanwhile, the far left interprets the Gaza conflict through an anti-colonial lens, emphasizing solidarity with the oppressed against perceived superpower aggression.

This unusual alignment sees a party with a history of Holocaust denial, like the National Rally, supporting French Jews openly. Conversely, a party built on human rights and equality, like France Unbowed, faces accusations of antisemitism for not condemning Hamas as a terrorist organization.

While nuances exist, the overall trend shows the National Rally under Marine Le Pen successfully integrating into the mainstream, while France Unbowed under Jean-Luc Mélenchon appears to be distancing itself. Opinion polls reinforce this, with Marine Le Pen leading in presidential election polls, while Mélenchon’s support has declined.

Serge Klarsfeld, a prominent figure in the fight against antisemitism in France, acknowledges the irony. He appreciates the far right’s departure from antisemitism, seeing it align with Republican values, yet expresses sadness over the far left’s perceived abandonment of efforts to combat antisemitism.

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German Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck has pledged a strong political response to the rise of antisemitism in the country. He addressed various sources of antisemitism, including Islamists, the far right, and segments of the political left, in a widely viewed video that garnered significant attention in Germany.

Antisemitic incidents in Germany have surged in the aftermath of the 7th of October attacks in Israel, during which Hamas militants killed 1,400 Israelis and took more than 230 hostages. In response, Israel initiated a military campaign aimed at destroying Hamas, resulting in significant casualties.

Habeck’s video emphasized the need to protect Jewish communities and condemned actions such as burning the Israeli flag or supporting Hamas, which are considered crimes under German law. He called for legal consequences, including possible deportation, for those involved in such activities.

While some praised Habeck’s address as a comprehensive assessment of the situation, others criticized him for suggesting that Muslim migrants and refugees were responsible for bringing antisemitism into Europe.

Germany’s Interior Minister announced a ban on all activities linked to Hamas and a pro-Palestinian network called Samidoun, citing their anti-Israel and anti-Jewish propaganda. The move was intended to facilitate interventions in gatherings of their supporters.

Antisemitic incidents have increased by 240% in Germany since the Hamas attacks, with reports of vandalism and attacks on Jewish-owned properties. Similar incidents have also been reported in neighboring Austria.

In France, a Moldovan couple was detained for spray-painting Stars of David on walls in Paris. They claimed to have acted on behalf of a third party and are now facing expulsion. Prosecutors are investigating whether the tags were intended as an insult to the Jewish community.

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French police are providing security for key lawmakers amid concerns of a surge in antisemitic violence linked to the conflict between Israel and Hamas. National Assembly President Yaël Braun-Pivet and MP Meyer Habib are among those receiving protection.

France’s interior minister revealed over 100 antisemitic incidents had been reported since hostilities began, including instances of graffiti with hate messages and individuals caught trying to bring weapons into schools and synagogues.

The situation has also seen Assembly President Braun-Pivet receive death threats. Germany is responding to the issue with a “zero tolerance” policy for antisemitism, while Chancellor Olaf Scholz confirmed the banning of the pro-Palestinian group Samidoun, which celebrated the Hamas attack. He emphasized that Israel’s security was a matter of German state policy.

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Germany has imposed a ban on the far-right organization Artgemeinschaft due to its dissemination of Nazi ideology to children and young individuals. The country’s interior minister has labeled the group as “deeply racist and antisemitic” and accused it of attempting to cultivate new adversaries of the constitution.

Artgemeinschaft employed Nazi-era literature and cultural events as vehicles for propagating its ideology. Law enforcement authorities have conducted searches in numerous residences and offices associated with the group across 12 German states.

German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser stated, “This represents another significant blow against right-wing extremism and against those who continue to propagate Nazi ideologies to this day.”

Artgemeinschaft, which roughly translates to “racial community,” reportedly had around 150 members, according to the interior ministry. The ministry revealed that the group provided guidance to its members on selecting partners with North or Central European backgrounds, in alignment with their “racial preservation” ideology.

The sect operated an online bookstore and regularly hosted cultural events, drawing several hundred attendees. It portrayed itself as “Germany’s largest pagan community.”

Authorities assert that the group used the facade of “pseudo-religious Germanic beliefs” to promote a worldview that violates human dignity.

The ban encompasses the group’s website, publications, and Familienwerk, another affiliated association.

Recently, Germany also outlawed Hammerskins, another neo-Nazi organization known for its role in organizing far-right concerts and selling racist music. Hammerskins, founded in the US in the late 1980s, was the last major right-wing skinhead group in Germany after the banning of another group, Blood and Honour, in 2000. It was heavily involved in establishing neo-Nazi music labels, distributing antisemitic records, and organizing clandestine music events.

Germany’s interior minister emphasized that “right-wing extremism has many faces,” noting that while Artgemeinschaft operated differently from Hammerskins, it was “no less dangerous.”

Artgemeinschaft is one of Germany’s oldest neo-Nazi groups and played a significant role in connecting various far-right and neo-Nazi factions in the country. Stephan Ernst, who assassinated prominent regional politician Walter Lübcke in 2019 due to “racism and xenophobia,” was a member of the group, according to German intelligence. Media reports also suggest that members of the group had ties to Ralf Wohlleben, a neo-Nazi convicted of supporting a notorious cell responsible for ten racially motivated murders in Germany.

Germany’s domestic intelligence agency estimates that there are 38,800 individuals active in the country’s right-wing extremist scene, with over a third of them considered “potentially violent.”

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Germany has taken action to prohibit Hammerskins, a neo-Nazi group infamous for organizing far-right concerts and distributing racist music. This move is seen as a strong stance against racism and antisemitism, with 28 leading members’ residences being raided across the country.

Hammerskins, which originally originated in the United States in the late 1980s, is believed to have around 130 members in Germany. The German authorities have labeled this ban as a significant blow to organized right-wing extremism and the cruel activities of an internationally active neo-Nazi organization.

Nancy Faeser, Germany’s interior minister, emphasized that right-wing extremism remains a substantial threat to democracy and that they will continue to take decisive action. The group’s primary objective was to use concerts as a platform to propagate their far-right ideology.

Hammerskins played a significant role in establishing neo-Nazi music labels, selling antisemitic music, and arranging covert music events. They were linked to venues like Hate Bar in Saarland, where arrests were made for displaying prohibited symbols during far-right concerts as recently as April of this year.

The German authorities collaborated closely with their counterparts in the United States in advance of this ban. Hammerskins, founded in Texas in 1988, expanded its presence across the US and several other countries, operating under a global umbrella known as the Hammerskin Nation.

In Germany, the group had been active since the early 1990s and was regarded as one of the most influential far-right organizations in Europe. It was divided into 13 regional chapters, some of which used names referencing Nazi Germany, and operated similarly to biker gangs. New members were required to complete initiation steps through their supporting group, Crew 38, which has also been banned.

The recent police raids aimed to target leaders of the group in 10 German states and seize the group’s assets. Several members were reported to have licenses to carry weapons. They referred to each other as “brothers” and considered themselves the “elite of the right-wing extremist skinhead scene.”

The group was responsible for organizing Germany’s largest far-right martial arts event, Fight of the Nibelungs, which was banned in 2019. Despite bans on certain activities, Hammerskins continued to organize concerts featuring various neo-Nazi bands.

This ban marks the 20th time that a right-wing extremist association has been outlawed in Germany, according to the interior ministry. Hammerskins was the last major right-wing skinhead organization in Germany following the outlawing of another group, Blood and Honour, in 2000. Blood and Honour had close ties to a neo-Nazi group responsible for 10 racially motivated murders in Germany.

In 2020, Germany also banned Combat 18, another neo-Nazi group associated with far-right concerts. The country’s domestic intelligence agency estimated that there are 38,800 individuals in the right-wing extremist scene, with over a third of them considered “potentially violent.”

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