Chancellor Angela Merkel has reacted to the weekend’s violent neo-Nazi protests near a migrant shelter in eastern Germany, calling them “repulsive,” “disgusting,” and “shameful,” Some of the demonstrators shouted “We are the people” and “Heil Hitler!” as they threw bottles and rocks. The police had to seal off the new migrant shelter to keep the asylum-seekers safe. Thirty-one police were injured in the clashes on Friday.
Angela Merkel spoke with reporters about the anti-refugee protests and was quoted by the Associated Press.
“It’s repulsive how far-right extremists and neo-Nazis are spreading their hollow message, but it’s equally shameful how citizens — even families with children — support this by marching along.”
Many in the German media criticized Angela Merkel for not condemning the extremists quickly enough. Today, Merkel and German government ministers spoke out forcefully against the anti-migrant movement.
BBC News reported Merkel’s response.
“Mrs. Merkel’s spokesman said it was ‘abhorrent how right-wing extremists and neo-Nazis attempt to spread their idiotic message of hatred around an asylum shelter.’
Her spokesman described the far-right demonstrations as ‘disgusting’ and ‘shameful’ — sentiments with which most Germans agree.”
At the refugee center in the town of Heidenau, near Dresden, authorities are beefing up security. The New York Times reported that the anti-migrant protesters numbered 250 at times last weekend. There were also 250 counter-demonstrators, one of whom held up a sign that said “Refugees Welcome.” Right-wing extremists have been outspoken recently, as Germany absorbs huge numbers of asylum-seekers for war-torn Syria and other countries. Angela Merkel’s government is committed to treating all refugees humanely.
The Times described the scope of the migration into the country.
“Almost 83,000 refugees arrived in Germany last month, and the government estimates that by the end of the year, 800,000 people will have come seeking asylum.”
Attacks on migrant shelters have risen alarmingly since 2014. Extremist groups have been running a “no refugee camps in my neighborhood” campaign. According to the Guardian, Google deleted a map of refugee shelters that the project was maintaining, because it seemed to amount to a map of targets for violent right-wingers to attack.
Angela Merkel’s Justice Minister insisted that the country should have zero tolerance for racism.
Germany has gotten a huge share – over 40 percent – of all asylum applications in the EU this year. Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande will be meeting this week to try to find some common solutions to the refugee crisis. Accommodating the humanitarian needs of refugees is a challenge that all European Union countries should share, both Merkel and Hollande agreed.
Angela Merkel is addressing the alarming rise of anti-migrant violence in Germany by condemning the extremist protests and enforcing the law.
[Photo by Matthias Rietschel / Getty Images]