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Crimes Against Refugees in Germany Double Since Last Year

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A Syrian woman cries as she sits on a folding bed in a former newspaper printing house used as a refugee registration centre for the German state of Hesse in Neu-Isenburg, on the outskirts of Frankfurt, Germany, September 11. Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

German police said on Tuesday that so far this year, more than 1,600 crimes have been committed against refugees in the country.

The offenses, which were reported by the police between January and the end of November, include physical and verbal attacks on refugees and their homes, spreading hatred online, property damage, and attacks on volunteers, politicians, and other people who support refugee causes.

A spokeswoman from the Interior Ministry told Newsweek on Tuesday that the latest figure of 1,610 is almost double the number from 2014, when 895 anti-refugee crimes were recorded. There have been no deaths reported so far this year.

Out of the total number of offenses, 850 crimes were committed by people with far-right political beliefs, according to figures released by German police in response to a question submitted by the country’s Green Party ( Newsweek has also seen the figures). Germany, which enthusiastically opened its doors to refugees as the crisis escalated in the summer, has seen a surge in arson attacks on refugee centers.

According to Germany’s pro-immigrant organization Pro Asyl and the Amadeu Antonio Foundation NGO, a hate crime is committed every day in the country. The crimes range from insults to spray-painted swastikas and street protests, AFP reports. At the same time, Germany is seeing a rise in far-right extremist activity. On October 19, far-right supporters staged a violent anti-migrant demonstration in Dresden. One police officer was attacked and seriously injured.

“People appear to be motivated by hatred,” Interior Ministry spokeswoman Pamela Müller-Niese told Newsweek. “Perpetrators are afraid of the future. It doesn’t have to be the individual that they have a problem with.”

According to a study by Germany’s national investigative police agency, the Bundeskriminalamt (BKA), the people carrying out attacks on refugee shelters are predominantly men aged between 18 and 25. Based on an analysis of approximately 220 suspects since the beginning of 2014, the study concluded that 30 percent of suspects are politically active on the right.

“The new figures demonstrate a worrying trend,” Green Party leader Anton Hofreiter told The Local Germany newspaper. “Far-right violence in Germany has reached new, tragic proportions.”

Germany expects around 970,000 refugees to have come to the country by the end of 2015, Tobias Plate, spokesman for the Interior Ministry, told Newsweek . Germany received the highest number of asylum applications in the EU, taking up to 360,000 requests for asylum by the end of October after having already accepted 104,000 applications during the third quarter of this year.

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