At the weekend, Hans-Peter Friedrich warned of the dangers that xenophobic attitudes and Neo-Nazis pose to Germany's export-based economy. The Interior Minister is particularly concerned about eastern Germany, where Neo-Nazis are particularly strong and unemployment levels are high. According to Der Spiegel
, he advocated increasing immigration, saying:
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.
Friedrich also starkly warned that Neo-Nazis are becoming entrenched in parts of civil society in eastern Germany. He vowed:
We cannot allow that.
Herr Friedrich's remarks come in the wake of the controversy surrounding the Innocence of Muslims
film. In an earlier interview with Der Spiegel
, he accused groups such as Pro Deutschland
, which wishes to publicly show the film, of deliberately provoking Muslims. He said:
...they are recklessly pouring oil on the fire. We must use all legally sanctioned courses of action to stop them.
These recent pronouncements marked a dramatic about turn for the Minister. Only last month, he was responsible for launching a campaign against radical Islam, which he characterised as a dangerous ideology, according to Gatestone Institute
. And last year, on being appointed Interior Minister, Friedrich explicitly claimed that Islam had no place in German society. As the Daily Mail
reported, he said:
Islam in Germany is not something supported by history at any point.
His remarks were subject to criticism from the left at the time, but were strongly supported by Angela Merkel, the Chancellor, who said that multiculturalism had "utterly failed", claiming Germany is a country defined by the Christian view of humanity.
Indeed, as Der Spiegel
has previously reported, the authorities in Germany have done little to combat the xenophobia and violence of the Neo-Nazis.