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Senator attacked as violence against politicians spreads in Germany



A Berlin senator and former mayor of the German capital has been attacked by a man in a local library in the latest of a spate of assaults on German politicians.

Franziska Giffey, a well-known figure in Germany’s centre-left SPD, was briefly treated in hospital after she was hit on the head and neck with a bag “filled with hard contents”, police said.

Politicians and campaign workers have been targeted in recent days, especially in eastern Germany.

German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, said the attacks were “outrageous and cowardly. Violence does not belong in a democratic debate”.

Last Friday, a lead SPD candidate in next month’s European elections was seriously hurt while putting up posters in Dresden.

Matthias Ecke, 41, had to have surgery in hospital after he was attacked by four people. Four teenagers are currently under investigation and at least one has been linked to the far right.

A campaign worker for the Greens in the city was beaten and kicked moments earlier. Separately, a female Greens politician in Dresden also came under attack from two people while putting up posters on Tuesday evening.
Yvonne Mosler was pushed and spat on while she was out filming with a TV crew.

Dresden police said the two suspects, a man and a woman, had been part of a group that had been giving the Hitler salute when she began putting up election posters.

Colleagues reacted with shock to the attack on Franziska Giffey, Berlin’s senator with responsibility for the economy. Ms Giffey served in Angela Merkel’s last federal government as minister for women and families before becoming mayor of Berlin in 2021.

Ms Giffey wrote later on Instagram that she had visited the Alt-Rudow library in the Neukölln district of south-east Berlin because it was a special place for her. “I would have never have thought it possible that I might come under attack there.”

The Berlin ex-mayor said she was shocked at how people engaged in politics had increasingly become “fair game” for attack: “There is no justification for these attacks. A boundary has been crossed and we as a society must resist it decisively.”

Police said they had detained a 74-year-old man already known to them for “state security and hate crimes”. Prosecutors said there were indications the man was suffering from “a mental illness” and were assessing whether he should be admitted into psychiatric care.

Berlin center-left senator Iris Spranger condemned the spate of assaults on all politicians and campaign workers, “all of whom are committed to a robust democracy”.

Michael Stübgen, the Brandenburg minister who chairs the conference of interior ministers, told reporters that criminal law no longer gave politicians and campaigners adequate protection.

“Unfortunately we have seen this spiral for years, and this year we are dealing with a violent spiral of physical attacks on female and male politicians, which I’m extremely worried about,” he told local radio in Berlin.

The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party is challenging for second place in European Parliament elections on 9 June, and hopes to become the dominant political party in state elections in eastern Germany in September.

However, it has been hit by spying allegations, with an aide to its top EU candidate in custody.

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