CHEMNITZ: German police braced for more far-right protests Thursday against Chancellor Angela Merkel’s immigration policies in the eastern city where a fatal stabbing has sparked outbreaks of racist mob violence.
Saxony state police said they would be backed by reinforcements from five other states and federal police, after being heavily outnumbered by thousands of neo-Nazis, football hooligans and other extremists in unrest Sunday and Monday.
The flashpoint city of Chemnitz — where state premier Michael Kretschmer was to hold a town hall-style meeting on democracy from 1700 GMT while demonstrations were expected outside — has seen a violent outbreak of long-simmering anger against what protesters label “criminal immigrants” since Sunday’s knife killing.
Police have arrested Iraqi Yousif Ibrahim A., 22, and Syrian Alaa S., 23, for the stabbing of 35-year-old Daniel H., a carpenter for a crime that set off random street attacks against people whom the mob took to be foreigners.
The disturbing scenes, which saw assaults against an Afghan, a Syrian and a Bulgarian man and were described as “pogrom-like” by some observers, have sparked widespread revulsion in Germany and beyond.
In another violent hate crime overnight in the ex-communist east, a 20-year-old migrant was subjected to xenophobic insults, and kicked and beaten with an iron chain by three men in the Baltic coast city of Wismar, police said without giving his nationality.
Images of protesters making the illegal Hitler salute in Monday’s protest were “shocking,” said UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, demanding that politicians from all over Europe speak out.
Merkel — travelling in Africa until Friday, mainly to discuss how to discourage migration to Europe — has condemned the far-right protests, declaring there is no place for “hate in the streets” in a liberal democratic state.
Tensions risked being inflamed further by a news report that the Iraqi suspect in the murder case had, despite a lengthy criminal record, somehow avoided deportation.
The trained hairdresser arrived in Germany in 2015, the peak year of the influx that would bring over one million mostly Muslim people to the EU’s biggest economy, reported mass-circulation Bild daily.
Since then he had reportedly received a suspended seven-months jail term for assault and been charged with other offences, including taking illegal drugs across national borders, fraud and property damage.
Crimes by immigrants are routinely seized upon by the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) and the street movement Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident (PEGIDA) who label Merkel a “traitor” for allowing them into the country.