/Fact-check: Forget about recovery wishes, if you can make him a martyr

Fact-check: Forget about recovery wishes, if you can make him a martyr

On the evening of the 7th of January 2019 Frank Magnitz, a far-right German AfD politician was beaten unconscious by three anonymous men in Bremen. In the morning after at 10:41 his party colleague Jörg Meuthen published a Facebook post about this incident on his own fan-page. His description of the crime follows the creative freedom of a fairy tale.

Meuthen has been a Member of the European Parliament since the 2017 national German elections and the frontrunner of the right-wing conservative party AfD for the 2019 European elections. According to the policy analyst Lucia Vesnic-Alujevic he is one of the most successful German politicians on social media and therefore used to publish daily on Facebook. The incident with his party colleague Magnitz was a reason to make more than 4 posts in the last week.

In the first one he is writing directly to his audience of 114,658 subscribers, to Germany, to members of the other parties and journalists who are reading his post. There, he is explaining what happened, why that happened and what he things Germany should do to prevent the supposed danger and violence against its democracy. He added an infographic with a picture of the beaten victim in the hospital, the logo of the party and catchy information. The picture shows a large gash on his forehead, and his face is swollen and covered in blood. The post is liked nearly 5,000 times, shared 3,000 and commented 2,000 times.

Meuthen writes that three masked left-wing terrorists attacked Magnitz and tried to beat him to death. He also writes that they kicked his head when he was already lying in the street. He is also writing about attempted murder. For the assailants, he is using the term “left-wing terrorists”. He is denouncing assassination attempts on innocent politicians of his party, because of the propaganda of other parties. And finally, he is coming to the conclusion that it is time to end the violence against his party. He also says that time is up for his party the AfD: “Zeit für die #AfD“.

The readers of a post like this could think it is rude and indelicate against a colleague who is suffering in hospital to use his misery and post a picture like that rather than wishing him to recover and protect him from too much public attention.

But Magnitz himself is explaining in an official statement of his party, that he asked his people to publish a press release with a picture of his injuries immediately: “I wanted to be sure that people can see how brutal the reality is and that we gain enough attention.”

So it is obvious, that the incident is used to gain attention. But how did Meuthen know exactly what happened and how is he able to explain the motivation of the attackers and the reason how that could happen? Did the police enlighten the crime over night?

Magnitz says he doesn’t remember what happened: “A mechanic who saw everything told me that three men were following me. That they attacked me and kicked me when I was already laying on the street. I told my people what I heard from this man.”

The mechanic told the German daily newspaper NOZ he didn’t tell him a story like this. He accuses Magnitz version as a lie.

The video of two security cameras is showing what really happened and made the politician overthink his report of the crime. The police of the city Bremen decided to publish the recordings to investigate the perpetrators.

The police of Bremen said in a press release that they have to see the attack as “politically motivated” because the victim is a known politician. But they didn’t see a proof or a reason to talk about left-wing extremism or far-left militants. The surveillance video shows three young men who seem to decide spontaneously to beat the man and run away. The video also shows that they didn’t have any tools and that they didn’t kick him when he was laying in the street. They came surprisingly from his back and the severe injuries are considerable because Magnitz didn’t even have the time to protect himself with his arms or use them while he was falling.

Magnitz says: “I don’t think it was wrong to use the term “assassination attempt” because I could have died. It was not an equal fight, I have been attacked from behind. This is legal hair-splitting.”

As a conclusion, we can say that the facts mentioned in the Facebook post are true. But they are placed out of context and used as propaganda to gain attention. When Meuthen made the post, there were no chance to be sure what really happened. The description is exaggerated and there is still no proof or hint for the explanation that it was planned by left-wing extremists or that the other parties caused it because of their propaganda against the AfD. What’s more, there is no great deal of violence against AfD members. This was the second attack on a politician of their party ever.

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