Chemnitz: Nine people injured after far-right protesters clash with police in Germany

‘If once again people are parading today in the streets making Nazi salutes, our past history forces us to resolutely defend democracy,’ says foreign minister

Maya Oppenheim
Sunday 02 September 2018 14:23
Comments
Riot police arrest a man on the verge of a right-wing march after the police closed the march following a blockade of counter-demonstrators on 1 September 2018 in Chemnitz.
Riot police arrest a man on the verge of a right-wing march after the police closed the march following a blockade of counter-demonstrators on 1 September 2018 in Chemnitz.

At least nine people were injured as far-right protesters clashed with police in the eastern German city of Chemnitz, where tensions have risen since an Iraqi and Syrian were arrested over a fatal stabbing.

The protests on Saturday attracted around 4,500 far-right supporters from different movements including the far-right, anti-immigration Alternative for Germany party (AFD) and the anti-Islam Pegida movement, according to police estimates.

Far-right protesters marched with large portraits of victims of attacks which they claimed were perpetrated by asylum-seekers.

Some chanted “Merkel must go” and “We are the people” as they waved German flags.

The protest also drew 3,500 counter-protesters who marched in support of chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision, in 2015, to open Germany’s borders to more than a million asylum-seeking migrants.

Anti-fascist demonstrators, who were also out in force, brandished banners which read “Chemnitz is neither grey nor brown” and “Heart instead of hate”.

Berlin voiced its support for the pro-migrant rally via Foreign Minister Heiko Maas who tweeted: “The Second World War started 79 years ago. Germany caused unimaginable suffering in Europe. If once again people are parading today in the streets making Nazi salutes, our past history forces us to resolutely defend democracy.”

“We will not let right-wing extremists destroy our country and our democracy. Neither in Chemnitz nor in Saxony nor anywhere in Germany. Our constitution must prevail. We must defend it. Now!” said Green MP Cem Özdemir in a tweet which was accompanied by a picture of him with demonstrators.

Saxony state police cited security concerns as the reason for drawing an early close to the event.

Far-right protesters take to streets in Chemnitz, Germany after man killed

The protests had a heavy police presence with reinforcements from across Germany after they were outnumbered by thousands of neonazis, football hooligans and other extremists, last week.

Street violence broke out on Sunday and Monday evenings – triggered by the arrest of one Iraqi protester and one Syrian suspected of stabbing a 35-year-old German to death. The crowds openly paid homage to Nazism and tensions boiled over into violence.

Scenes of the vigilantes chasing foreigners in the city’s streets have left people reeling across Germany. After the arrests, mobs launched random street attacks against people they perceived to be foreigners, including an Afghan, a Syrian and a Bulgarian man.

Police failed to manage to control the earlier protests and clashes at times.

The political climate in Germany has become increasingly divided in recent years – allowing the AfD to become the largest opposition party in the Bundestag.

The AfD, which has stirred controversy for its members’ attitudes to the Nazis, was originally founded as a Eurosceptic party in 2013. The far-right party won seats in parliament for the first time in September by capitalising on a surge of discontent against Ms Merkel’s immigration policy.

The AfD is now the third largest party in parliament – recasting the German political landscape and taking voters from Ms Merkel’s conservatives and the centre-left Social Democrats.

The once-fringe party has capitalised on the fact that celebrating German national identity has remained taboo since the Second World War – with standing for the national anthem and waving flags often frowned upon – by embracing an unapologetically nationalist agenda.

The arrival of migrants has triggered a fierce backlash in Germany which had led to a torrent of hate crimes. Anti-migrant sentiment has been especially strong in Saxony state.

The migrant influx has now significantly slowed down. In Germany, which recorded 745,545 asylum applications in 2016, just 93,316 were registered for the first half of this year.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in