Wheelchair victim of fascism

BONN - Schoolchildren in the east German town of Halle have called for a demonstration today in protest at the attack by skinheads on a 17-year-old wheelchair-bound schoolgirl who had a swastika carved into her face, writes Steve Crawshaw.

The attack by three skinheads, was the latest far-right attack on the physically handicapped. There have been more than 80 such attacks in the past two years, and there have been warnings that the number continues to rise. The skinheads - two youths and a girl of about 15 - demanded that the girl shout Nazi slogans. When she refused, one of the skinheads put a knife to her cheek and sliced a swastika into it.

Germany's biggest-selling daily, Bild, carried a front- page headline yesterday declaring 'Horror over skin violence'. But much of the initial reaction has been muted, despite words of condemnation from some politicians. Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, the Justice Minister, described violence against the weak as 'especially despicable'.

A nationwide search for the attackers has been launched. The night after the attack, police searched 200 apartments and clubs connected with the far right.

(Photograph omitted)