The Office for the Protection of the Constitution in Saxony has registered a radicalization in protest movements. “Both the Corona protests and the anti-refugee protests have led to a dissolution of boundaries in mainstream society. Right-wing extremists propagate topics and thus find a connection in the middle class," said Dirk-Martin Christian, President of the State Office for the Protection of the Constitution (LfV) of the German Press Agency. People from the middle of society would not contradict extremist positions and would not mind demonstrating alongside right-wing extremists. "The middle of society is becoming fragile."
"We still have a latent protest milieu in the Free State," said Christian. Most recently, people also took to the streets because of the Ukraine war and energy prices. However, the protests were nowhere near the scale that played a role during the corona pandemic or the 2015 refugee crisis. "The 'winter of rage' hasn't materialized so far. But that doesn't mean that the potential for protest has disappeared.” Depending on which topic is suitable as an initial spark, protests could flare up at any time.
“We are dealing with people who react to topics with potential for outrage. Some of these are the same people who took to the streets against refugees in the past. Now her topic is, for example, the traffic light coalition in the federal government. The topics can be exchanged at will, they only have to capture you in your personal life.” The protest milieu remains there and can be called up at any time. "That's why you can't give the all-clear. Many people remain in their protest posture.”
According to Christian, right-wing extremism remains the greatest threat to democracy, including in Saxony. As evidence, he also cited the handling of “national settlers”. Behind this are right-wing extremists who are striving for an “intact national community” in remote areas and thus want to escape the “multicultural life” in big cities. There are efforts of this kind nationwide, in Saxony especially in the Leisnig area (Central Saxony). “People think they are decent people, hard-working young people with children. In this way, the right-wing extremists gain acceptance. But if the majority doesn't distance themselves, extremists have an easy time of it. One day the ripe apple falls from the tree.”
According to Christian, radicalization is not limited to the “right” and is also emerging in the climate movement. “We have noticed a certain lack of distance towards left-wing extremist positions among climate activists. There are forms of action, including serious crimes, which parts of the climate movement either do not reject or only half-heartedly reject. Left-wing extremists are trying to instrumentalize movements such as 'Ende Gelände' or 'Fridays for Future' for their anti-constitutional agenda and to attract newcomers to the scene. The movement is very heterogeneous and, as a whole, non-extremist. However, extremists see a high level of connectivity when it comes to the climate issue.”
“Quite a few people have doubts about democracy and our system, especially young people. There is a deep distrust of traditional media,” the LfV President described another finding. More and more people would only get information via social media. "It's a danger. Opinion-making is also organized on social media. People are in their respective bubbles and swing themselves up in them.” Christian speaks of “digital extremism”. The verbal radicalization in society will mainly continue through these channels.
“If our political system shows apparent weaknesses, it is immediately carried and dramatized as a shitstorm on social media. Digitization has given extremist movements a boost. You don't have the feeling that you can stop it and put the genie back in the bottle.” Social media are a problem if used uncritically. "They change our image of humanity, the way we treat each other and also our political thinking."