Right-wing baiting under mouth protection (neues-deutschland.de)

Veßra Monastery in Thuringia

Photo: dpa / Steffen Ittig

Over the next few weeks, the Thuringian police and the Meiningen public prosecutor will have to clarify the background to an apparently racist incident that allegedly took place in a supermarket in southern Thuringia a few days ago. According to photos of the incident published on the Internet, two men with hoodies have been shopping in a supermarket, the design of which is based on the clothing of the racist Ku Klux Klan (KKK). Not only that there is a cross on the chest of the sweater that looks at least very similar to the cross of the KKK. Apparently, a pointed hat and a full face mask have been pulled out of the hoods of the clothes, so that the overall outfit of the men is very similar to that of the KKK. Thuringia’s Prime Minister Bodo Ramelow (left) and Interior Minister Georg Maier (SPD) strongly condemned the incident and announced the consequences.

Right-wing extremist Tommy Frenck, who lives in Kloster Veßra (Hildburghausen district), seems to be behind the action – even though it cannot be clearly said whether he is one of the two men who showed up in the supermarket because of the complete masking. However, the photos of the provocation at the weekend appeared on a social media channel that Frenck operates. In addition, »hooded sweaters with a mask function« are available in the extreme right mail order business for which Frenck is responsible. The photos of the sweaters that Frenck has previously offered “in advance” have been published online, and are the same as those used in the supermarket campaign.

From comments that users have left about the incident, there are indications that the two men with the KKK outfit were shopping in a supermarket in Hildburghausen. There are also pictures of the »hooded sweaters with mask function«, which were apparently taken in Frenck’s inn in Veßra Abbey.

The right-wing extremists are abusing the obligation to wear mouth-nose protection in Germany due to the corona pandemic. One of the photos published by the incident says: “Shop with a mask, they said …”. According to the information on the social media channel, the two masked people were neither expelled from the house during their shopping tour, nor checked by the police, nor criticized by other buyers for their appearance. After the photos of the incident had become public, the left-wing MP Katharina König-Preuss filed a complaint. Among other things, it accuses those involved in the provocation of being guilty of incitement and calling for acts of violence.

Ramelow said that the action and sale of the sweaters express Frenck’s “racist outlook and inhumane attitude.” While the vast majority of people in Thuringia are complying with the obligation to wear a face mask to contain the corona pandemic, Frenck is also trying to profit from the crisis. After there had also been incidents in Erfurt in which right-wing extremists threatened people while wearing mouthguards in the colors of the imperial war flag, the state government would examine the extent to which the applicable rules had to be “specified”. It had to be clear that there was a duty to wear mouth and nose protection in certain public places, but no right to mask yourself under the guise of a duty to protect mouth in such a way that it would make committing crimes easier.

Interior Minister Maier said that when the two men with the KKK outfit appeared in the supermarket, they had sent “a hateful message”. “I am very sorry that nobody intervened in this situation,” he said. The police will now check “whether this incident is relevant to criminal law.”