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20 Aug, 2016 16:31

Give German public right to arm themselves, says anti-immigration party chief

The leader of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party says that people should have the right to arm themselves with guns and weapons in order to defend themselves following a spate of terrorist attacks that rocked Germany in July.

Frauke Petry, who is the head of the anti-immigrant party, made the remarks in an interview with the Funke Media Group, which was published on Saturday. The leader of the AfD mentioned that there is a growing unease amongst certain sections of the Germany public.

“Many people are increasingly feeling unsafe. Every law-abiding citizen should be in a position to defend themselves, their family and their friends," she said. "We all know how long it takes until the police can get to the scene, especially in sparsely populated places," she added.

According to the politician, her party is currently the only force opposing tougher gun laws in Germany.

“This would affect the law-abiding citizens - and not those who get their weapons from the darknet,” Petry said. She also slammed the current gun law debate as essentially portraying “legal gun possession as something more scandalous than those illegally having weapons.”

Petry is equally worried about the fact that the German police have witnessed massive budget and personnel cuts over the past years, while cross-border crime has skyrocketed.

“The Federal and the states governments are now planning to hire 15,000 additional police officers by 2020, but this is simply hot air. The training cannot be accomplished in such a short time”.

Last month, Germany was hit by two Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL)-associated terrorist attacks, and a further two assaults, which had no links to the group.

On July 18, a 17-year-old “unaccompanied minor” of Afghan origin armed with an ax and a knife attacked commuters on a train in Wurzburg, injuring five people and leaving 14 more in shock. The suspect was shot dead by police while trying to escape the crime scene. IS later claimed responsibility for the assault.

An attack also took place on July 24 in the Bavarian city of Ansbach, where a 27-year-old Syrian who had been rejected asylum, set off an improvised bomb hidden in a backpack, which killed the bomber and injured at least 15 people.

The AfD has capitalized on the growing disillusionment in Germany concerning the number of refugees entering the country, with more than one million moving to Germany in 2015. The far-right party now has seats in eight of Germany’s 16 states.

The party is also expected to make strong gains in upcoming elections in Berlin and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in the north east of the country.