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"We will not stop the increasing radicalization with fines"

In the Prado Museum in Madrid, activists attached themselves to two paintings by the Spanish master Francisco de Goya - in Amsterdam, hundreds of blockers climbed over fences and barriers at the airport to prevent private jets from taking off: climate protests also caused a stir and outrage at the weekend .

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"We will not stop the increasing radicalization with fines"

In the Prado Museum in Madrid, activists attached themselves to two paintings by the Spanish master Francisco de Goya - in Amsterdam, hundreds of blockers climbed over fences and barriers at the airport to prevent private jets from taking off: climate protests also caused a stir and outrage at the weekend .

In Germany, the parliamentary group of the CDU/CSU is now calling for tougher sentences to punish such attacks on cultural assets or infrastructure by the self-proclaimed “last generation”. At the beginning of the week, a leading motion, the draft of which is available to WELT, will be discussed and decided by the parliamentary group board. He is due to go to the Bundestag later this week.

Climate protest should "not be a license to commit crimes," said CSU regional group leader Alexander Dobrindt of "Bild am Sonntag" and warned of a "further radicalization" of the movement. Imitators would have to be deterred and the emergence of a "climate RAF" prevented - a reference to the left-wing terrorist group Red Army Faction (RAF), which murdered 34 people from 1972.

The CDU and CSU want to advocate that a minimum prison sentence can be imposed in the future if emergency services, the fire brigade or the police are hindered in action by road blockades. Preventive detention should also be possible, according to the Union, in order to banish the risk of a repeat.

According to the lead motion, there should also be a minimum sentence of imprisonment if cultural assets are damaged or destroyed. So far, these offenses have usually resulted in a fine.

The CSU MP Andrea Lindholz, chairwoman of the interior committee in the Bundestag, believes that there is no alternative to increasing the sentence. Political protest is legitimate, but does not justify any crime, she told WELT. Red lines would be crossed with people being endangered by road blockades and historical works of art being damaged. “The rule of law must react more harshly than before. We will not stop the increasing radicalization with fines," said Lindholz.

Both in the traffic light coalition and in the opposition party AfD, the union idea met with little approval. According to its deputy leader Dirk Wiese, the SPD also assumes that some of the climate activists will become more radicalized. But criminal law already has every opportunity to take appropriate action against such crimes.

"The constant calls for higher penalties on the part of the Union shows their blatant ignorance of the current legal situation," says Wiese. In addition, "politicians like Alexander Dobrindt from the CSU, who have actively obstructed the expansion of renewable energies for years, are one of the reasons why young people are taking their protest to the streets today".

FDP General Secretary Bijan Djir-Sarai also calls the concerns about radicalization within the climate movement "real and justified", but rejects a change in the law. “There are enough legal instruments to take action against radical groups. These must be applied consistently.”

In this context, Djir-Sarai also sharply criticized those who side with blockers or art destroyers: "The understanding of some actors in politics and society for anti-democratic and violent forms of protest is a slap in the face for all those affected and for our constitutional state."

The AfD parliamentary group also assumes that no parliamentary measures are necessary, at least for the time being. Stephan Brandner, parliamentary group manager, reprimanded the Union push as "classic opposition populism". Whether changes to the law are necessary to introduce a heavier sentence must be examined. "For now, it would be enough to consistently apply existing laws and robustly prevent crime."

Brandner also called the lead motion “forgetting the past”. According to Brandner, the previous federal government, made up of the Union and the SPD, “nursed, encouraged and tolerated left-wing extremists and climate terrorists”. On the other hand, AfD warnings about the radicalization that has now occurred have been ignored and ridiculed.

Government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit had already distanced himself from the term "terrorism" for actions by climate activists in the middle of the week. Defacement is an administrative offence, but he does not want to endorse the term terrorism. He had been asked if "Last Generation" actions were slowly descending into a form of terrorism.

Berlin's governing mayor Franziska Giffey (SPD) meanwhile emphasized that the capital is taking action against illegal protests. In more than 700 criminal proceedings against climate activists in Berlin, more than 240 penal orders were issued, only one procedure was discontinued.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) has little use for forms of protest from groups like the “Last Generation”. "I'm happy to admit that I don't think it's a good thing when works of art are somehow painted or thrown at with pulp," Scholz said on Saturday at an SPD debate convention when asked how more understanding for the activists' concerns could be created. Everyone should think beforehand what he or she will do with actions. This also applies to protest actions on the road. He believes that the opposite of their concerns will be achieved if activists stick to the street and obstruct traffic.

"I think the people who are stuck in traffic don't suddenly understand the seriousness of the issue, they just get annoyed from start to finish. And that's why I don't think it's a good idea," said Scholz.

The Greens and Left did not comment on the demand for harsher penalties for actions by the "last generation" at WELT's request. But Boris Palmer, whose Green party book is currently on hold, spoke up. He sees the danger of radicalization: "The psychological pressure on the activists is increasing, they have declared the emergency and, from their point of view, must now act radically," he told the "Tagesspiegel".

In addition to the available range of penalties, Palmer also urges dialogue: "I say to the activists that their actions are definitely going to ruin climate protection." climate protection. "I can understand that to a certain extent, 30 years ago I was no different. That's why dialogue is so important," Palmer said. "My generation screwed up climate protection, now we finally have to tackle it."

"Kick-off Politics" is WELT's daily news podcast. The most important topic analyzed by WELT editors and the dates of the day. Subscribe to the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, among others, or directly via RSS feed.

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