Figures and organisations across the political left in Germany reacted with horror at the suggestion of U.S. President Donald Trump that the far-left organisation Antifa could be recognised as a terrorist organisation, prompting many to out themselves as supporters of the violent group.
The phenomenon of the social media message “I am Antifa” (#IchbinAntifa) was triggered over the weekend after President Trump publicly considered classifying Antifa as a terrorist organisation. The message trended on German-language social media, reports Deutsche Welle, with figures from the left-wing politics — particularly the Green party and the far-left Link (Left) party — signalling their support.
Die Linke leader Bernd Riexinger went further than some, remarking that he was an Antifa “always and everywhere” because of German history. Party faction the Young Greens also got involved, writing that all members were needed to fight fascism “on the street, on the internet, in the parliaments”. Yet the anti-Fascist credentials of Antifa are under heavy scrutiny given their actions, which seem to often target unrelated individuals and organisations.
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) July 4, 2019
Antifa and far-left extremist violence hit the headlines in the U.S. this month after the self-described “gay journalist of color” Andy Ngo was beaten by members of the group, and in Italy over the suspected terrorist sabotage of railway equipment. In Sweden, an Antifa extremist was recently jailed after police discovered his horde of illegal firearms and police uniforms.
President Trump had written days earlier: “Consideration is being given to declaring ANTIFA, the gutless Radical Left Wack Jobs who go around hitting (only non-fighters) people over the heads with baseball bats, a major Organization of Terror… Would make it easier for police to do their job!”
While leftist politicians were quick to criticise the move, others were sympathetic, including German police who pointed out the extreme violence inflicted by Antifa members. The Hamburg police union published images in response to the controversy of Antifa protestors carrying wooden staves with nails driven into them which, they said, were used to attack police horses.
Die gewaltbereite #Antifa bei ihren »antifaschistischen« Aktionen. Der in das Lattenholz getriebene Nagel dient u.a. dazu, Polizeipferde zu attackieren. #USAntifa #G20HAM17 #IchbinAntifa pic.twitter.com/COoUbVYhXr
— DPolG Hamburg (@DPolGHH) July 28, 2019
Public figures have condemned Antifa violence as a threat to democracy itself. Brexit leader Nigel Farage told Breitbart London in an exclusive interview this month that the hospitalisation of U.S. journalist Andy Ngo by Antifa fighters was “very, very dangerous and it’s damaging democracy in a serious way.”
In the U.S., Senator Ted Cruz described Antifa as a “terrorist organization composed of hateful, intolerant radicals who pursue their extreme agenda through aggressive violence… Time and time again their actions have demonstrated that their central purpose is to inflict harm on those who oppose their views”, saying they should be classified as a domestic terror group.