NRW is a center of clan crime in Germany. Now the Greens want to create a “new definition of clan crime” that “does not stigmatize”. The resistance is great – especially from NRW Interior Minister Reul.

A feud between rockers from the Hells Angels and the Kurdish-Lebanese Saado clan escalated in May 2022. Almost 100 men compete against each other at the Hamborner Markt in Duisburg. Shots are fired, injuring three suspected protagonists.

In June, 400 members of two clans fought bitter street fights in Essen-Altendorf. Plates and glasses fly, the thugs keep throwing chairs at a Turkish grill bar down on their opponents. Cell phone videos of the incident show larger groups scooping up their victims on the ground. A combatant was seriously injured in the neck by a stabbing, and two other men also needed treatment.

The detectives speak of typical tumult crimes in the clan milieu. But if the Greens in the NRW state parliament have their way, such phenomena should no longer appear in the situation report of the NRW State Criminal Police Office on clan crimes. Unless the prosecutors can prove that organized crime (OC) is behind these incidents.

Julia Höller, domestic policy spokeswoman for the North Rhine-Westphalia Greens, told FOCUS online that “a new definition of clan crime should be created that doesn’t stigmatize”. In the coalition agreement, it was agreed with the CDU to focus on the fight against organized crime. A uniform police and judicial definition in this area should only refer to criminal structures, “without condemning people across the board and placing them under general suspicion,” said Höller.

“I assume that the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Justice will exchange information about a common definition in the near future.” Green Justice Minister Benjamin Limbach says he also supports the plan to redefine the term clan.

However, Limbach leaves it open how this should look like and which offenses should be excluded. The agenda of NRW Interior Minister Herbert Reul (CDU) of thousands of needlesticks against criminal Kurdish-Lebanese extended families was met with great approval in the last state elections.

In the clan discourse, there is now a real threat of trouble within the green-black coalition. While Prime Minister Hendrik Wüst and his Green deputy, Economics Minister Mona Neubaur, maintain an extremely harmonious style of government on the outside, Interior Minister Herbert Reul goes on the barricades. The CDU politician vehemently defends himself against the Greens’ plans to weaken the fight against clan crime.

When asked by FOCUS online, the CDU politician wants to stick to his law-and-order course: “If we want to solve a problem, we have to name it and, among other things, create annual situation reports on clan crime.” This is how you light it up Dark field and make the phenomenon visible, explains Reul. “It is only in the overall view that one recognizes the full extent, the connections and the neuralgic points. And this is the only way to develop tailor-made concepts to combat this crime.”

In 2021, investigators found references to Kurdish-Lebanese extended families in every fifth OC investigation. In NRW, however, clan crime shows many faces, according to Reul: “Aggressive use of power in public, riots, escalations of violence – all with the aim of claiming certain streets and squares for themselves.” Accordingly, clan sizes play the entire spectrum general crime: threats, insults, coercion, physical harm or resistance to law enforcement officials.

These crimes are just as commonplace as anything that brings in money: robbery, fraud, theft and counterfeiting, the interior minister explained. “And these guys display an arrogance of the day: we do what we want; we whistle on the state’. Therefore, for me, criminal clan members are the epitome of what a functioning state must prevent. We will continue to consistently fight clan crime at all levels and in all its manifestations.”

Rarely is a minister so harsh on his coalition partner. But Reul fears a return to old political reflexes of looking the other way, which for decades led to the rise of Kurdish-Lebanese clans in the Ruhr area in particular. During the state election campaign, the leader of the Greens parliamentary group, Verena Schaeffer, dismissed clan crime as an “overblown topic”. Reul’s zero-tolerance strategy met with little approval from her.

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In the meantime, however, Schaeffer has kept a low profile when asked. Rather, her colleague Höller takes over. The interior politician referred to “migrant young people” who lived here in the third generation and had no training prospects. In addition, the member of parliament complained that these teenagers were being checked “by the police without cause, without having done anything. Above all, we have to give young people a perspective and show them that they are part of our society instead of stigmatizing them across the board.”

These sentences make it clear that two completely different perspectives are colliding here. The domestic political dissent now runs far through the parliamentary groups.

With great displeasure, CDU MPs received a press release from Green party leader Yazgülü Zeybek about the fatal shooting of 16-year-old Senegalese refugee Mouhamed D. by the police in August. After reports of the allegedly illegal use, the state chairwoman had put “racist thought patterns” in the room among the emergency services.

The black coalition partner is horrified. The CDU MP Gregor Golland emphasized: “Every day our police officers stand up for our security. And then to condemn them across the board is neither correct nor helpful.”

The security policy dispute will certainly soon be expanded by another chapter. Namely when the police are supposed to clear the opencast mining village of Lützerath from climate activists. If the violent conflict between the officials and the occupiers escalates, the Greens in North Rhine-Westphalia will again have to perform a difficult balancing act: between criticism of the police and an agreeable relationship with the black coalition partner.