2018 Chemnitz protests

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See also: European migrant crisis

The city of Chemnitz became a flashpoint of German patriotic sentiment in late August 2018, resulting from the deep frustration of the German people over the country's mass migration policies.[1] Hundreds of protesters gathered in the eastern German city of Chemnitz on Monday, August 27, in a second day of demonstrations after a 35-year-old local carpenter, a German of Cuban extraction, was stabbed to death on Sunday, August 26. The fatal stabbing took place during Chemnitz's local festival period. The protestors blamed Chancellor Angela Merkel for giving unrestricted access to Muslim migrants, who had now murdered one of their own residents.

Activists of the conservative Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, PEGIDA, along with other patriotic conservatives, marched in a protest in Chemnitz on Saturday, September 1. According to police estimates, about 6,000 supporters of the right-wing Pro Chemnitz group were at the scene, along with about 1,500 left-wing, pro-open borders counterprotesters.

While most of the protestors were conservative and patriotic Germans, Merkel and the German mainstream media described them as somehow being "neo-Nazis."[2]

Initial protests

Within 24 hours, after the arrests of the Syrian and Iraqi murder suspects, the City of Chemnitz had become the major fault line in Germany's unresolved refugee debate. The initial protests, called for by local soccer fan association Kaotic Chemnitz, took place on Sunday and prompted police in the Saxony city to call in reinforcements as scuffles broke out.[3] A member of the conservative Alternative for Germany (AfD) party Markus Frohnmaier actively encouraged the protests in a tweet published on August 27. "If the state can no longer protect its citizens, people go to the streets and protect themselves." He added, "Today it is the civic duty to stop the deadly 'knife migration'."[3]

Many of the German protestors had been angered by Angela Merkel's pledge to take in a million refugees to fill the gap in the country's rapidly shrinking population.

According to the Irish Times, an estimated 5,000 neo-Nazis, violent football hooligans and angry locals, joined a “march of mourning” for the dead man. Many of the crowd – mostly men aged 20-50 – held signs reading “Stop the asylum flood”; others with free hands gave the forbidden Hitler salute and chanted: “Germany for Germans, foreigners out.”[4]

"What we have seen is something which has no place in a constitutional democracy," Merkel said on August 28 in Berlin, during a joint news conference alongside Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic. That same day, the German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that the anti-immigration protests were "intolerable."

On August 30, when Saxony’s state premier, Michael Kretschmer, arrived in the city for a meeting with locals, he was booed and jeered. "Locals feel they are being treated unfairly", he said afterwards in reference to the billions diverted from welfare budgets to spend on housing and subsistence costs for about 1.3 million Muslim migrants who have arrived in Germany since 2015.[5]

Continued protests

Members of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, along with other conservatives, engaged in a protest march in Chemnitz on Friday August 31 that spread throughout the weekend. According to police estimates, about 6,000 supporters of the right-wing Pro Chemnitz group were at the scene, along with about 1,500 counterprotesters.

Leaders of Germany's Alternative for Germany party and of populist group Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West wore dark suits and held white roses as they began what they called a "mourning march". Demonstrators held up placards showing portraits of murder victims of Muslim migrants. The German interior minister Horst Seehofer defended the Chemnitz protesters by calling Muslim migration "the mother of all problems".[6][7][8]

Daniel Hillig

On Sunday August 26 at 3.15am near the 7-meter statue of Karl Marx in Chemnitz, Daniel Hillig, a local 35-year-old carpenter with a German mother and Cuban father, was attacked as he withdrew money from a bank machine and died a short time later of his stab wounds in hospital.[9]

German police fired water cannons and used pepper spray in the city of Chemnitz on Monday August 27, during a second day of protests,[10] as 6,000 alt-right demonstrators, with some (according to the leftist Cable News Network) chanting neo-Nazi slogans and giving Hitler salutes, as they clashed with police and counter-protesters over the fatal stabbing of Daniel Hillig.

His widow told Bild that Mr. Hillig would not have wanted the protests. "Daniel was neither left nor right," she said. "I looked at the events on Saturday night – this was not about Daniel at all."

A makeshift shrine on the pavement where Daniel was stabbed has become a focal point for the city’s grief — and anger. Thousands of patriotic Germans staged a "mourning march" for people killed by migrants.[11]

Family Minister Franziska Giffey laid flowers at the scene of the crime in Chemnitz on Friday 31 August, the first member of Merkel’s cabinet to visit.[12]

Arrests

A 22-year-old Iraqi man and a 23-year-old Syrian were arrested over Mr. Hillig's death.

Police say one of the two suspects, a 22-year-old Iraqi man, Yousif Ibrahim Abdullah, who arrived in Germany with false documents, was due to have been deported and had chalked up a considerable criminal record in Germany: fraud, drug possession, damage to property.

Lügenpresse (Lying press)

See also: Fake news

In the first week of protests, German Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned the anti-migrant protests in the state of Saxony, saying "hate in the streets" had no place in the country. According to a CNN report, Demonstrators on Sunday chased people who looked possibly foreign, videos from the protests show, while German media reported similar cases of intimidation.[13]

The Protesters chanted: "Wir sind das Volk" [We are the people], just as they did in the dying days of the communist regime. Repeated attempts by reporters to interview those in the protests on the main part failed. “We don’t talk to the Lügenpresse [lying press]”, was a typical response.[14]

On September 1, Justice Minister Katarina Barley claimed with no evidence that parts of the AfD were "openly acting against the constitution". And she added "We need to treat them like other enemies of the constitution and observe them accordingly." [15]

On September 3, certain German authorities said they were stepping up surveillance of the conservative Alternative for Germany amid calls by the liberal German establishment to do so.[16] Andreas Kalbitz, a member of the party's national leadership, accused the German political parties of panicking in the face of AfD's electoral success.

In the first week of September, the President of Germany's domestic intelligence agency, Hans-Georg Maassen, openly expressed doubts about Mainstream media reports that right-wing extremists were chasing down non-Germans during demonstrations in Chemnitz. "I share the skepticism towards media reports of right-wing extremists chasing down [foreigners] in Chemnitz," the German Bild tabloid reported on Friday September 7.[17][18] Shortly afterward, the leftist SPD demanded his dismissal[19] while Interior Minister Horst Seehofer voiced confidence in Maassen’s leadership and claimed he does not “see any reason for staff changes.”[20] As a result, Merkel's government fired him for not taking the establishmentarian stance toward the protests and toward the AfD.[21] However Interior Minister Horst Seehofer managed to immediately promote Maassen as state secretary in the interior ministry.[20]

Many residents of Chemnitz were angry about being called Nazis for engaging in peaceful protests over the lack of law enforcement and the government's immigration policies, or for simply reporting crimes committed by migrants in general.[22][23]

References

  1. The Germans are sick of migrant violence and they are right. Voice of Europe. September 3, 2018. Retrieved September 8, 2018.
  2. Merkel calls concerned German citizens in Chemnitz ‘neo-Nazis’. Voice of Europe. September 4, 2018. Retrieved September 8, 2018.
  3. 3.0 3.1 German government condemns far-right protests in reaction to fatal stabbing
  4. Chemnitz riots reveal new German migration fault line
  5. disturbances disclose new German migration fault line
  6. 'Migration is the mother of all problems': Germany's interior minister defends Chemnitz protesters and says demonstrating 'doesn't make you a Nazi' as he sympathises with locals
  7. Hale, Virginia (September 6, 2018). German Interior Minister ‘Would Have Joined’ Chemnitz Protests, Says Mass Migration ‘Mother of All Problems’. Breitbart News. Retrieved September 8, 2018.
  8. Kaddour, Abdelhamid (September 6, 2018). “Migration is the mother of all problems” says German Interior Minister. Voice of Europe. Retrieved September 8, 2018.
  9. Murders tearing Germany apart: SUE REID reveals the far Right is ruthlessly using five killings to stoke up hatred after migrants were implicated
  10. Tomlinson, Chris (August 28, 2018). 1,000 Residents of German City Riot in the Streets Following Fatal Stabbing by Migrants. Breitbart News. Retrieved September 8, 2018.
  11. Montgomery, Jack (September 2, 2018). PICTURES: Protesters Stage ‘Mourning March’ in Chemnitz for Victims of Killer Migrants. Breitbart News. Retrieved September 8, 2018.
  12. Families Minister becomes first government official to visit site of Chemnitz stabbing
  13. Merkel condemns 'hate in the streets' after Chemnitz far-right protests
  14. Fear in Chemnitz: 'I’m used to neo-Nazis, but not my neighbour mixing with them in broad daylight'
  15. German authorities take aim at far-right party's youth wing | The State
  16. Tomlinson, Chris (September 4, 2018). German Establishment Call for Domestic Intelligence to Spy on Populists Following Chemnitz Protests. Breitbart News. Retrieved September 8, 2018.
  17. Chemnitz violence: 'No evidence' far-right chased foreigners, says intelligence chief
  18. Hale, Virginia (September 8, 2018). Chemnitz: Intelligence Chief Says ‘No Evidence’ Anti-Migrant Attack Video Is Authentic. Breitbart News. Retrieved September 8, 2018.
  19. Mischke, Judith (September 13, 2018). Germany’s SPD demands dismissal of top security official. Politico. Retrieved September 23, 2018.
  20. 20.0 20.1 Anderson, Emma (September 18, 2018). German domestic intelligence chief removed from post. Politico. Retrieved September 23, 2018.
  21. Nasr, Joseph (September 18, 2018). Germany ousts spymaster over far-right violence row. Reuters. Retrieved September 18, 2018.
  22. https://youtu.be/SRkFsAP-h8Q
  23. https://youtu.be/5faJlhu5dmY