International Edition Volume 13 (2023)


Really Creating a Stir. The police and the discourse on racism in our society

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Jochen Christe-Zeyse

On 25 May 2020, in Minneapolis, African-American George Floyd suffocated to death under the knee of a white police officer. Those in Germany and Austria who thought such incidents only happened in other countries soon found themselves confronted with a public debate on the racist attitudes and methods of police officers. Victims reported cases of “ethnic profiling” and random checks on individuals who seemingly did not fit the common cliché of a “white person”. The issue gained traction, journalists wrote articles, books were published, debates were held in talk shows and ministries drafted action plans. However, it soon became clear that there appeared to be two discourses on this topic: one discussed the question of how police officers should be trained so that checks on individuals were no longer based on skin colour or presumed nationality, while the other wanted to talk about the emergence and impact of racist images of humanity, about the history of colonialism and about the characteristics of racist thought patterns and how they operate in the minds of all white people. Accusations became loud and counter-arguments, assurances by white people that they are not racists, encountered the results of scientific studies which showed that deep within us there are criteria by which we differentiate people who are similar to us from people we perceive as being “different”. Of course, the discussion over racism did not begin with “Black Lives Matter”, but long before that; it fills many metres of shelving with publications and now has a fully formulated and differentiated theoretical underpinning that we should roughly have understood if we want to engage in this discourse and develop solutions together.

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Dealing in and Consumption of Illegal Drugs in “Urban Villages”

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Christiane Howe

Ongoing drug dealing and consumption in neighbourhoods of West German cities suggests diverse negotiation processes. But how exactly are dealing and consumption reflected there in immediate, everyday life and in the neighbourhood in socio-spatial terms? How do they take place and how do systems and structures manifest themselves? Such spatially structured systems, according to the basic premise, do not establish themselves only materially in and at the specific place, but are brought about through the social practices of everyone involved. It is thus to be assumed that residents in every neighbourhood learn on the ground, increasingly acquire local knowledge and are thus able to distinguish between what is relevant and not relevant. Overall, the neighbourhoods are perceived differently by residents and users depending on perspective, experience, social anchoring in the neighbourhood, possible courses of action, etc., different problems are mentioned and assessed in different ways. Qualitative ethnographic research as part of a German BMBF project revealed that apart from misdemeanours, especially concerning (bulky) waste and disturbances of the peace, it is petty theft and above all the dealing in and consumption of drugs taking place on the doorstep, especially of cannabis and to a lesser extent cocaine, that form part of the debates specific to the neighbourhood. Below, one such neighbourhood is described and analysed with the latter focus by way of example: its composition, development into a “hotspot”, the process and structure of drug dealing and consumption and how these are dealt with, particularly by the police. Finally, the description and analysis form the basis for being able to answer the questions raised as well as those concerning the consequences.

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The Traumatic Brain Injury and its Forensic Significance

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Silke M.C. Brodbeck, M. Sinikka Brodbeck, Juha Öhman

Following on from the first two parts in this series of articles (see also Brodbeck et al. 2017; Brodbeck et al. 2018; Brodbeck 2020; Brodbeck 2021), which dealt with the grasp reflex and the appearance of bloodstains following head injuries, this third part views at the forensic significance of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and, in particular, brain edema. Brain edema can be caused by many different influences, such as tumor, trauma or inflammations. Forensically relevant brain edema can also be caused by toxics, e.g. MDMA-induced hyperthermia. Brain edema is of high relevance in the crime scene work of murder cases due to the fact that it may cause delayed impairment in victims after head injuries. This leads to a crime scene where some part of the evidence may be caused by the victim itself and afterwards, although the victim is found dead at the scene. Thus TBI can have an enormous effect upon crime scene reconstruction. Another part of this article describes the effects of TBI upon the memory of victims. Survived TBI can lead to seemingly contradictory statements between perpetrator and victims on the face of it, whereas in reality both statements are very close, taking the TBI into consideration. In this article, we describe this effect as the Broken Continuity Effect (BCE). It should be noted that the term TBI is expressed differently in other languages. Whereas in the English world this injury is described as traumatic brain injury, in the German speaking world it is named “Schädel-Hirn-Trauma” (SHT), which also takes the skull into consideration as an anatomical part of this body area.

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Strategies of Extremist Organisations and their Influence in the Education Sector. Summary of the results of the Stratex project

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Veronika Hofinger

This article provides an overview of the results of a two-year research project. We investigated, firstly, how extremist organisations try to exert influence in the formal education system. Secondly, the project focused on educational actitivties and trainings that extremist organisations use to spread their ideology and recruit new members. Five areas were examined in status quo analyses and in-depth case studies, namely: domestic right-wing extremism, ultranationalism in diaspora communities, Christian extremism, Salafism, and far-right esoteric anti-state movements. While we found little direct influence on the formal education system, it is mainly the organisations’ own educational activities that are important. The investigated groups differ in their organisational structures, but also in their educational offers and target groups. While some form very loose networks that even refrain from using a common name or label, others are organised in a strict hierarchy. Not all of them are equally interested in recruiting new members on a broad basis; some organisations, such as the “Society of Saint Pius” (Piusbruderschaft) or the “Grey Wolves”, direct their educational efforts inwards and towards their “own” youth; others – such as the Salafists or Identitarians – are missionary in nature. The goals of the investigated organisations are correspondingly diverse and range from the reproduction of their own community via the recruitment of new cadres and disseminators to the influencing of public discourse through low-level dissemination of their own ideology. Non-ideological educational measures can also serve the purpose ofcreating general legitimacy in the community.

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Jihadist Terror with a Fatal Outcome. A comparative case study on attacks in Austria and Germany

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Paul Schliefsteiner, Florian Hartleb

The number of jihadist-motivated terror attacks with a fatal outcome has also increased in recent years in German-speaking Europe, specifically in Austria and Germany. Analysis shows that these acts are mostly isolated or considered in the context of time and content with attacks abroad in non-German-speaking countries. This article presents a comparison of the fatal jihadist attacks of recent years in this part of the continent. The period chosen goes back as far as 2015. Following the refugee crisis, which culminated in the autumn/winter of that year, the parameters and potential for such attacks in Central Europe changed substantially. Basically, it can be said that terror attacks resulting in fatalities (regardless of the motivation of the respective perpetrator) were rather rare up until that point. According to official data, until 2 November 2020, there had notbeen any fatal attacks in Austria at all since 1995 (the Oberwart attack) and 2009; the two mentioned were completely differently motivated ideologically speaking. In Germany, there were rightwing terrorist-motivated attacks in Munich (22 July 2016), Kassel (2 June 2019), Halle (9 October 2019) and Hanau (9 February 2020) – all committed by lone perpetrators in execution of the crime. To some extent, dissatisfaction with refugee policy played a role as a motive for the attacks to a greater or lesser degree, as was proved in Munich, Kassel and Halle (Hartleb 2020). For the jihadist spectrum, the final attack of the type considered in Germany would be that of 2 March 2011 at Frankfurt Airport, which cost two US soldiers their lives. The decision to focus on those cases in which victims died is because these attacks have to be considered as having been the “most successful” from the perspective of the terrorists. The question as to whether an attack was a “terrorist act” within the meaning of the penal code did not play a role in their selection – also because differences exist in the legal frameworks from country to country in this regard.

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“European Conference on Antisemitism”. The recording of antisemitic incidents in a national and European context

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Antonio-Maria Martino

Antisemitism increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially online. For several years in Europe, in various Member States of the European Union (EU), antisemitic incidents have been daily occurrences – not only on the internet, but also in the real world. Therefore, it is no wonder that many Jews decided to leave Europe. It took the EU a long time to react to these developments. Eventually, a policy and legal framework has been now set up to fight antisemitism. A comprehensive EU strategy for combating antisemitism and promoting Jewish life was presented in October 2021. In order to support its implementation, the Austrian Federal Minister Karoline Edtstadler, responsible for the fight against antisemitism and the promotion of Jewish life, launched a European initiative aimed at strengthening cooperation for the implementation of the EU strategy against antisemitism. The “European Conference on Antisemitism (ECA)” convened for the first time on 18/19 May 2022 in Vienna and primarily committed itself to harmonising the recording of antisemitic incidents in the EU.

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