Thousands have rallied in Berlin against the riding wave of right-wing politics. The protests come in the wake of recent far-right and neo-Nazi demonstrations against multiculturalism in Chemnitz, Köthen, and Schönberg.
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Groups including, pro-refugee, LGBTIQ+ groups, and Muslim organizations hit the streets in support of Saturday’s ‘Indivisible’ protest against the growing surge of racism and xenophobia in Germany and across the EU.
The march pushed the slogan “solidarity instead of exclusion – for an open and free society” following nearly a month of tensions boiling over into right-wing rallies and left-wing counter protests, that at times descended into violence.
“A dramatic political shift is taking place: racism and discrimination are becoming socially acceptable,” organizers of ‘Indivisible’ (Unteilbar) said in a statement. “What yesterday was considered unthinkable and unutterable has today become a reality.”
The ‘unthinkable’ organizers may have been referring to were anti-migrant protests at Chemnitz, Köthen, and Schönberg.
Tensions reached fever pitch in Germany after the death of a German man in Chemnitz who was reportedly stabbed by a Syrian and an Iraqi. Multiple xenophobic protests took place, with the largest seeing 6,000 neo-nazis and far-right supporters gather to rally against Germany’s multiculturalism and migrant culture.
Some 1,500 left-wing counter-protesters answered back, with protests tipping over into violence as fireworks and projectiles were hurled at each other. Police used water cannons to keep the near-rioting crowds under control.
A fortnight later, on September 9, another right-wing demonstration took place in Köthen, sparked by the death of another German man who was killed in a fight with two Afghans. Authorities worked to stop tempers flaring following the chaos of Chemnitz.
Even children are not exempt from the surge in negative sentiments towards migrants. The neo-nazis were out in force in the northeastern town of Schönberg after a nine-year-old Syrian boy was killed in a road accident. Right-wing extremists have twice painted swastikas on the sidewalk, seemingly in celebration of the boy’s death.
Ethnic tensions in Germany have done damage to Angela Merkel’s government, appearing when Germany’s domestic intelligence chief Hans-Georg Maaßen was forced to step down after he questioned the authenticity of video footage showing far-right protesters in Chemnitz chasing down migrants. Maaßen also appeared to downplay the violence, sparking further controversy.
The removal of Maaßen, the head of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, came after more than a week of political clashes that revealed deep fissures in Angela Merkel’s coalition.
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