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11 Sep, 2018 16:04

Nazi salutes & attacks on police probed after rally in German city

Nazi salutes & attacks on police probed after rally in German city

A rally in the German city of Halle saw scuffles with police and Nazi salutes and slogans. The country has faced a wave of demonstrations from both the far-right and the left after two Germans died in brawls with migrants.

Fourteen preliminary investigations, including for assault, have been launched, police have confirmed, updating the number from the initial 10. Some protesters are said to have shouted “Sieg Heil” as well as giving Nazi salutes. The rally in question was held in the central-eastern German city of Halle on Monday, with an estimated 450 people attending the right-wing event.

It’s also claimed that some of the protesters were heavily intoxicated and spat on police officers.

Germany has faced a number of protests in the past weeks, following deadly incidents involving migrants. Some escalated into outright street battles with riot police, leading to numerous arrests and injuries.

The unrest, which has quickly made local and international headlines, kicked off after a local man was killed in a brawl in the city of Chemnitz. Two suspects, a Syrian and an Iraqi, were arrested after the incident.

The far-right rallies were met with counter protests from the left, who opposed the “hatred” which ant-immigrant gatherings were supposedly preaching. Rival protesters have engaged in sporadic clashes with each other on several occasions.

Following the Chemnitz riots, Horst Seehofer – Germany’s interior minister and leader of the CSU – the Bavarian sister party of Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU, said that he would have taken part in the protests too under different circumstances.

“If I wasn’t a minister, I would’ve taken to the streets as a citizen, but of course, not with the radicals,” he stated, adding that he understands why the killing of the German man caused such outrage and branded immigration the “mother of all problems.”

This weekend another German man died after a scuffle with a group of Afghans in the city of Kothen. The man died of heart failure, according to prosecutors, yet the two migrants were detained. The new incident has triggered a new wave of protests.

Massive rallies prompted fears of far-right violence, reinforced by a number of videos circulating online, which purported to show demonstrators chasing down migrants in the streets of Chemnitz. The authenticity of such videos, however, was questioned by the head of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), Hans-Georg Maassen.

“I share the skepticism towards media reports of right-wing extremists chasing down [foreigners] in Chemnitz,” Maassen told Bild newspaper on Friday. The domestic spy chief did not elaborate which video fueled his doubts in particular.

Maassen’s remarks have triggered a wave of criticism from a number of left-leaning politicians, who claimed the spy chief was supporting “fake news campaigns” to whitewash Chemnitz unrest and urged him to resign.

The BfV chief is set to appear before a parliamentary committee to explain his grounds for doubting the veracity of videos. According to German media reports, Maassen appeared to backtrack somewhat on his original comments in a letter to Interior Minister Horst Seehofer. He said that he meant to express doubts on whether the videos actually showed people being chased – and not question their authenticity.

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