German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for a “stronger fight” against racism, following a far-right terror attack that left nine people — including five Turkish nationals — dead and five others injured in western German town of Hanau.
“Racism is a poison. Hate is a poison. And this poison exists in our society, “ Merkel told reporters on Thursday, stressing that right-wing extremists have been responsible for many crimes and killings in recent years.
“The Federal Government and all state institutions stand for the rights and dignity of every person living in our country. We do not differentiate people on the basis of their country of origin or religion,” she said.
“We stand up against those who attempt to divide Germany, with all our power and determination,” she stressed.
A German far-right extremist, identified by security forces as Tobias R., killed at least nine people on Wednesday night in the western town of Hanau near Frankfurt.
Five Turkish nationals were among the victims targeted by the gunman at two cafe bars in the town frequently visited by migrants.
Initial police findings showed that the perpetrator was acting with “xenophobic motives,” Hesse’s Interior Minister Peter Beuth told reporters on Thursday, adding that the authorities were treating the case as a terrorist act.
Steinmeier condemns attack
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier also condemned the attack and called for solidarity with everyone threatened by racists.
“I was horrified to hear about the terrorist act of violence in Hanau,” he said in a statement, expressing sorrow and sympathy for the victims.
“I stand with everyone who is threatened by racist hatred. They are not alone,” he stressed.
“I am convinced: The majority of people living in Germany are condemning these acts and any sort of racism, hatred, and violence,” he added.
Steinmeier’s office announced that the President will visit Hanau on Thursday to meet with the family members of the victims and representatives of migrant organizations.
Hanau is located around 20 kilometers (12 miles) east of Frankfurt and has a population of nearly 100,000, including more than 15,000 people with migrant backgrounds.