German Twitter users have started trending #IchbinAntifa (“I am Antifa”) Sunday, in response to President Donald Trump’s Saturday tweet threatening to label the group a terrorist organization.
Trump tweeted: “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 (along with MS-13 & others). Would make it easier for police to do their job!”
In the US, the Antifa (short for Anti Fascist) movement includes left-wing, militant groups that engage in direct conflicts online and on the street. They engage in digital activism, property damage, physical violence, and harassment against anyone they identify as fascist, racist, or far-right. They include anarchists, socialists and communists along with some liberals and social democrats.
The Anti-Defamation League describes Antifa as “a loose collection of groups, networks and individuals who believe in active, aggressive opposition to far right-wing movements.” It also says “their presence at a protest is intended to intimidate and dissuade racists, but the use of violent measures by some Antifa against their adversaries can create a vicious, self-defeating cycle of attacks, counter-attacks and blame. This is why most established civil rights organizations criticize Antifa tactics as dangerous and counterproductive.”
Antifaschistische Aktion is the name of the Antifa network in Germany.
Bernd Riexinger, co-chairman of the Left party, tweeted on Sunday in response to Trump’s threat: “I am Antifa always and every time. German history compels us to stand up against racism and fascism. On the street and in parliament.”
Greens party MP and its spokesperson for social and queer policy Sven Lehmann tweeted that he supports Antifa because the group “often looked closely when people were devalued or attacked, where others looked away.”
On the German right, Alternative for Germany (AfD) party members expressed gratitude and support for Trump and demanded action against Antifa in Germany, too.
AfD MP Jürgen Braun tweeted: “If Antifa is finally classified as a terrorist organization in this country as well, then the currently popular hashtag ‘I am Antifa’ offers up a very rich pool of investigative leads in the fight against terrorism. Donald Trump is making it possible, thank you very much!”
The Hamburg police union tweeted images of Antifa protesters carrying signs calling for attacks on policemen, and stated: “Violence as a means of political conflict must be prohibited and criminally prosecuted — this must be a democratic consensus that transcends party and ideological boundaries.”