Scholz vows to toughen up German deportation rules after attacks

By Madeline Chambers

BERLIN (Reuters) -Germany will tighten its rules so that the glorification of terrorist offences can be sufficient grounds for deportation, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Thursday, after a series of attacks prompted calls for a stricter migration policy.

An Afghan man severely injured six people last Friday during a knife attack at a right-wing rally in the southwestern city of Mannheim, fuelling concerns about public security. A police officer hurt in the attack later died of his injuries.

Scholz, a Social Democrat who rules with the Greens and the liberal Free Democrats, faces a stiff challenge from the far-right, anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) in European Parliament elections which take place in Germany on Sunday.

"Anyone who glorifies terrorism is against all our values and should be deported," Scholz told the Bundestag lower house of parliament.

He also said the government was working to enable the deportation of criminals and dangerous migrants back to countries such as Afghanistan.

"Such offenders should be deported - even if they come from Syria or Afghanistan," said Scholz.

Such a move would be controversial as Germany does not repatriate people to states where they are threatened with death. It stopped deportations to Afghanistan after the Taliban took power in 2021. Reaching a deal with the Taliban, some of whose officials are under international sanctions, is also widely seen as problematic.

"Everyone must be able to live in our country without fear of their fellow human beings," said Scholz.

"That is the central promise of our state. We will enforce this promise with all our might," he said, adding that the government would also tighten criminal law so that people who threaten or insult politicians are punished more severely.

A local candidate for the AfD was injured in a knife attack this week, also in the city of Mannheim, by a man who police said showed clear signs of mental illness.

Verbal and physical attacks on politicians in Germany have more than doubled since 2019, government data shows. The AfD is expected to perform strongly in both Sunday's European election and in regional elections in three states in September.

(Reporting by Madeline Chambers, Miranda Murray and Sarah Marsh; Writing by Madeline ChambersEditing by Gareth Jones)