Germany bans anti-Semitic group, raids homes

International

Police officers carrying boxes out of a house after an apartment raid in Berlin, Germany, Thursday, March 18, 2020. After the ban of the Reich Citizens’ Group “United German Peoples and Tribes”, raids took place in several federal German states.(Carsten Koall/dpa via AP)

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BERLIN (AP) — Authorities conducted raids in 10 German states Thursday at premises linked to a group accused of pursuing a mix of anti-government and racist ideology.

Germany’s top security official, Horst Seehofer, issued a ban on United German Peoples and Tribes, the first time a group associated with the so-called Reichsbuerger movement has been proscribed.

Reichsbuerger, or Reich citizens, have similarities to the sovereign citizens movements in the United States and elsewhere. They reject the authority of the modern German state and promote the notion of “natural rights,” often mixing this ideology with far-right politics and esoteric conspiracy theories.

The Interior Ministry said around 400 police officers had seized firearms, propaganda material and small amounts of drugs during the raids on the homes of 21 leading members of the group.

“We are dealing with a group that distributes racist and anti-Semitic writings and in doing so systematically poisons our free society,” Seehofer said in a statement.

Authorities say members of the newly banned group, whose activities were focused in Berlin, had issued threats against German officials.

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