A new right-wing movement could grow out of the current protests against Corona measures, warns the Federal Working Group on the Church and Right-Wing Extremism – and certainly sees parallels to Pegida in the process.
Only at first glance do the rainbow flag carriers and Reich citizens, the old hippies and AfD supporters, the radical vegans and right-wing homoeopaths not have much to do with each other, says Henning Flad. He heads the Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft Kirche Rechtsextremismus (Federal Working Group on Right-Wing Extremism) and attests that the seemingly so different groups of demonstrators against the federal government's Corona policy certainly have things in common.
Right-wing extremists and vaccination opponents
On the one hand, the protesters are united by their rejection of modern natural sciences, especially medicine, says Flad. For years, he goes on to explain, right-wing extremists have played a leading role in so-called vaccination criticism; like many who demonstrated in Berlin over the weekend, they oppose vaccinations on principle. In addition, Henning Flad attests to the demonstrators' particular susceptibility to conspiracy ideologies. Against this background, he observes, people are now gathering across milieu boundaries to form a new movement with a clear right-wing twist. "We have to get rid of the idea that right-wing ideas always come in jump boots," says the extremism expert.
Radicalization processes like Pegida
"I fear that similar to Pegida a few years ago, now people are actually having something like revival experiences."At that time, there was a whole series of radicalization processes, at the end of which citizens became right-wing activists and stayed that way. After the intoxicating experience of the protests in front of the Reichstag in Berlin last weekend, something similar could happen now, warns Henning Flad.
No reliable figures on participation by Christians
Whether and how strongly Christians feel part of the movement, which at the moment goes by the name "Querdenken", Flad is not able to say. There is no reliable numerical data. Although he frequently encounters staunch opponents of vaccination in church circles, "My impression is that when we look for religious references, it's mainly people from the esoteric scene who are there, not so much from the churches."
As far as the churches' general positioning on right-wing extremism is concerned, Flad and his colleagues from the federal working group are quite satisfied. Both the Protestant and Catholic churches have long distanced themselves very clearly and credibly from the extreme right.
Discussions on right-wing extremism in the parishes
In the parishes, however, could be discussed even more strongly and critically about right-wing extremism and racism. "We must make clear, how dangerous and poisonous those are, which acted there at the weekend in Berlin in a leading role.These people," complains Flad, "openly question democracy and basic values, and deliberately devalue others.
Incidentally, in order to counteract such a right-wing extremist upsurge, the Federal Working Group Church and Right-Wing Extremism has just joined forces with other civil-society sponsors to form the Competence Network for the Prevention of Right-Wing Extremism – together with the Amadeu Antonio Foundation, Cultures Interactive e. V., "Show your face! For a Germany open to the world e. V." and the Lidice House youth education center. The association is supported by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth within the framework of the federal program "Democracy Live!" promoted.
Henning Flad brings the church perspective into the network on behalf of the Federal Working Group Church and Right-Wing Extremism – and with it, of course, the one irrevocable principle: that racism and right-wing extremism are incompatible with Christian faith.