Economics of Xenophobia: Neo-Nazis Threaten German Exports, Minister Says
Xenophobia and neo-Nazism pose a serious threat to Germany's export-oriented economy, Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich has warned. He singled out eastern Germany as particularly vulnerable to that threat, saying it is in Germans' own interest to reject xenophobia and welcome foreigners.
German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich warned over the weekend that neo-Nazis and xenophobes at home could hurt the competitiveness of German goods abroad.
Friedrich said that former East Germany, where xenophobia is particularly strong, has a clear need for foreign workers. He used Spain as an example of a country with extremely high unemployment, particularly among youth, that could serve to fill the labor shortage in Germany.
"The more foreigners who come into eastern Germany to study and work, the more companies will set up shop there so they can grab workers right out of university," he said.
Friedrich also warned of neo-Nazis making inroads in the former East. He said he worried that neo-Nazis were "knowingly infiltrating civil society in some parts of eastern Germany to achieve their goals."
"We cannot allow that," he said.
Adding to the provocation, a populist group in Germany called Pro Deutschland has said it wants to show "Innocence of Muslims" publicly, unleashing a debate over how far the right to freedom of expression extends in Germany.
In an interview with SPIEGEL last month, Interior Minister Friedrich, whose ministry is currently reviewing the issue, accused such groups of intentionally provoking Islamists. "By doing so, they are recklessly pouring oil on the fire," he said. "We must use all legally sanctioned courses of action to stop them."
acb -- with wire reports
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