- Seehofer defended the Chemnitz protesters by calling for action on migration
- Murder of Daniel Hillig sparked marches and counter-protests in Chemnitz
- The protests were organised by far-right groups with many people arrested
- German minister Seehofer said those who broke the law would be prosecuted
- Angela Merkel is due to visit Chemnitz imminently in the wake of the protests
By – George Martin
German interior minister Horst Seehofer has defended the Chemnitz protesters by calling migration ‘the mother of all problems’.
Seehofer, who was instrumental in nearly bringing down his own coalition partner Angela Merkel last month with his criticism of her immigration policy, emphasized that not all the Chemnitz protesters were far-right activists as he defended their actions.
‘If I were not a minister, I would have taken to the streets as a citizen – of course not together with radicals,’ Seehofer told the Rheinischer Post.
Seehofer also called for a ‘pan-European solution to the migrant crisis’ adding that he believed ‘the migration issue is the mother of all political problems’.
Thousands of people took part in protests organized by far-right groups in the eastern German town of Chemnitz last week, following the fatal stabbing of a German man, allegedly at the hands of two refugees.
Several people were arrested for performing Nazi salutes. Protestors also reportedly targeted foreigners and chanted ‘You’re not welcome here.’
Seehofer said that all those found to have performed Nazi salutes and committed other offences would be prosecuted by the state, adding ‘we will not turn a blind right eye’.
His defence of the Chemnits protesters once again placed him into the opposite corner as his coalition partner Angela Merkel.
Merkel and Seehofer came to blows earlier this year over the chancellor’s failed attempts to agree an EU-wide migration settlement.
Crisis was only averted when Merkel struck a deal in early August with Seehofer’s CSU party to automatically return asylum seekers who arrive in Germany after having already applied for asylum in another EU country.
‘I say that the question of migration poses challenges,’ she said in an interview with RTL television.
Merkel added that protests in Chemnitz showed both people ‘filled with hate aimed at other people’ and ‘how people stand up to xenophobia and racism.’
‘It is a tense situation in which, I believe, everyone needs to take a position,’ she added.
Merkel announced on Wednesday she will visit Chemnitz in the coming days after an invitation from the city’s mayor.
Merkel said Germany ‘saw images in Chemnitz that clearly showed hate and the chasing of innocent people’ during the protests.
During a joint news conference in Berlin today alongside Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, she added: ‘What we have seen is something which has no place in a constitutional democracy.
‘We have video recordings of people hunting down others, of unruly assemblies, and hate in the streets, and that has nothing to do with our constitutional state.’
The death of Daniel Hillig around two weeks ago in the the Saxon city of around 240,000 people sparked a surge of violent right-wing protests and counter demonstrations from left-wing groups, with far-right demonstrators outnumbering counter-protesters on Saturday by 8,000 to 3,000, police said.
His death sparked a surge of violent right-wing protests and counter demonstrations from left-wing groups, with far-right demonstrators outnumbering counter-protesters on Saturday by 8,000 to 3,000, police said.
Far-right groups and thousands of local citizens took to the streets in the days after the stabbing, with a number of participants attacking people who looked foreign, and making the illegal Nazi salute.
The Chemnitz knife attack is the latest in a series of violent crimes by refugees that have garnered massive media attention across the world and stoked anger at Merkel’s decision not to close Germany’s borders to more than one million migrants and refugees, who arrived since 2015.
Two suspects, an Iraqi and a Syrian, are in police custody following the killing of Hillig, while a city court yesterday issued an arrest warrant for a third man, another Iraqi.
Read more: From 2018/03/02