Video of mob threatening, chanting at refugees shocks German officials

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German officials say they are ashamed after a video emerged which showed a mob shouting and blocking a bus of refugees, among who were women and crying children. The video has gone viral and has sparked a heated debate online.

The video posted on Friday showed a group of men blocking a bus full of refugees in the town of Clausnitz, in the eastern German state of Saxony.

The video shows them shouting in German “we are the people” and urging the refugees to “go home.”

A witness told the Freie Presse newspaper that one of the protesters had threatened the refugees with a cut-throat gesture.

In the video footage, women and children could be seen through the windscreen of the bus with a sign stating “enjoy your travel.” The footage shows a boy crying and stepping out from the vehicle.

The slogan “we are the people” was used during protests against the German Democratic Republic’s (GDR) authorities in 1989 and 1990, which called for the reunification of West and East Germany. The slogan has been recently picked up by anti-refugee movements in Germany and the right-wing PEGIDA (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West) movement supporters, who claim the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel is as illegitimate as was GDR.

In response to the video, German officials said they were ashamed of how the refugees were being treated.

This was about politics, not the people themselves,” said Michael Funke, the mayor of Rechenberg-Bienenmühle, the municipality where the incident took place.

Saxony’s interior minister Markus Ulbig of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Party said that he finds “it deeply shameful to see how people are being treated here.”

Saxony police spokesman Rafael Scholz said no arrests have been made but police are investigating verbal threats. Police said on Facebook that they were able to prevent physical confrontations. 

They also said that the number of anti-refugee protesters was estimated as being at about 100 people.

The video of the incident that took place on Thursday evening was initially posted on a Facebook page “Döbeln wehrt sich – Meine Stimme gegen Überfremdung” (“Döbeln protects itself –your voice against foreign influx” ) which has been blocked. 

On Friday, TV comedian Jan Böhmermann reuploded the video on his Facebook page. It immediately went viral collecting over 920,000 views in eight hours.

Later in the day he tweeted: "Clausnitz (Saxony) yesterday. The German fear mob greets those who escaped the jaws of death."

"We would have to be afraid that refugee homes would soon burn faced with the hate of the fear-citizens…if they hadn't already been burning for a long time," Böhmermann added in a separate Tweet.

READ MORE: Overcome ‘dark side’: Campaign urges residents to embrace refugees launched in Germany

His posts were reshared multiple times and sparked a debate in Twitter and on Facebook. Views split into two camps – those who expressed support for the refugees and urged police to act; and those who spoke out against the asylum seekers living in Germany and praised the actions of the protesters.

According to a December police report, over 1600 crimes have been committed against refugees and refugee housing in Germany in 2015, nearly twice as much as in 2014.