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Merkel to sack counter-spy chief amid right-wing violence scandal – reports

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is allegedly determined to sack Hans-Georg Maassen, chief of Germany’s domestic security agency, who questioned reports about right-wing violence in Chemnitz.

During an emergency meeting of the ruling coalition last week, Merkel decided that Maassen overstepped the line by interfering with the daily policies of the cabinet, Die Welt reported on Monday. The chancellor reportedly wants to replace him.

Maassen sparked controversy earlier this month by saying in an interview with Bild that he was skeptical about media reports that far-right protesters chased people looking like foreigners during mass rallies in Chemnitz. The protests were in response to the stabbing of a local resident, which resulted in the arrest of people from Iraq and Syria.
Maasen claimed that there was no proof that a video showing white men chasing after migrants was genuine. He has since accepted that it was in fact real, but said that his skepticism of the media reports left too much room for misinterpretation.

His initial remarks angered many politicians and pro-refugee activists in Germany, with some calling for the domestic security chief to resign. His agency, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), was also accused by some media of negligence in tackling the threat of right-wing violence in the country. Allegations of ties with the anti-immigrant party Alternative for Germany (AfD) came into question as well.

Die Welt cited coalition sources, who said Merkel had signaled her decision to fire Maassen over the weekend in a series of phone calls. The report would not be immediately confirmed by either the chancellery or the Interior Ministry, which oversees the BfV and is headed by Horst Seehofer.

Seehofer, the leader of the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian counterpart of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), is himself under fire for his attitude to migrants and right-wing protests. There are rumors that Seehofer may soon be pressured to resign his leadership due to his ailing health, which he himself denied.

Critics blame the media for lumping together genuine right-wing radicals responsible for acts of xenophobic violence, like an attack on a Jewish restaurant in Chemnitz, with the rest of the population.

The German media “do not differentiate enough between right-wing extremists, hooligans and even people showing the Hitler salute” and peaceful right-wing protesters, who have legitimate concerns about things like crimes committed by refugee seekers, analyst Rainer Rithfuss told RT. He added the public debate about this is too often “black and white,” and the establishment’s response to the rise of right-wing sentiment in Germany has only made the polarization of society worse.

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