11 hospitalized as rival right-wing & anti-fascist protests face off in Chemnitz, Germany (VIDEOS)
Tensions were running high in Chemnitz with sporadic clashes reported between the participants of two rival marches that took place in the city on Saturday under heavy police presence.
A total of around 9,500 people took part in both demonstrations, police reported. The turnout at the right-wing rally, led by anti-immigrant AfD (Alternative for Germany), anti-Islam PEGIDA and right-wing group "For Chemnitz," which joined later in the day despite police objections, outnumbered the one organized by left-wing activists. The counter-protesters marched under the motto "Heart against Hatred," attracting some 4,000 people, according to the count provided by the city authorities.
The right-wing demonstration, initially envisaged as a "silent march," gathered at the Karl Marx monument in downtown Chemnitz, chanting "Wir sind das Volk" (We are the people) and other slogans. The people marched, carrying flags and posters depicting the victims of alleged violence by migrants.
Disturbances were reported at the nearby 12th-century landmark Roter Turm (Red Tower). According to police, several groups tried to break through cordons and infiltrate the right-wing rally there. Some 300 people were arrested as police moved to prevent skirmishes, it said in the report.
Eleven people were hospitalized following the violence, the city authorities reported.
Overall, 25 offenses of various types, such as damage to property, inflicting injuries, resisting police and using banned insignia, have been reported by police. In an incident that took place outside demonstration venues, a 20-year-old Afghan man was attacked and beaten by four unknown perpetrators. The victim suffered minor injuries.
The counter-demonstration was supported by Germany's mainstream parties, including Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the Social Democrats (SPD), the Greens and the Left Party. As SPD MP Soren Bartol and his entourage were on their way to leave the rally, they were attacked by what Bartol described on Twitter as Nazis. The lawmaker said that attackers destroyed the party's flags and inflicted bodily harm on some of his associates. None of the injuries were serious, however.
The rallies in Chemnitz have been going on for days, sparked by the death of a 35-year-old German in a brawl on Saturday, which reportedly involved around 10 people of "various nationalities." A 22-year-old Iraqi and a 23-year-old Syrian were subsequently arrested and charged with manslaughter.