By Sabine Siebold
CHEMNITZ, Germany (Reuters) – Hundreds of anti-immigration protesters chanting “Resistance!” demonstrated in the German city of Chemnitz on Thursday after a series of violent confrontations that followed the killing of a German man by two immigrants.
Police in the eastern state of Saxony have brought in reinforcements from across Germany after clashes at two days of protests which followed the arrest of a Syrian and an Iraqi over Sunday’s fatal stabbing of the man, named only as “Daniel H.”.
Germany is deeply divided over Chancellor Angela Merkel’s 2015 decision to allow in over a million migrants, many of them refugees from wars in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Heightening concerns about possible links between police and the far-right in Saxony, prosecutors also announced that an officer had confessed to leaking what was supposed to be a confidential arrest warrant for the Iraqi suspect. This was widely published on far-right websites, fuelling the protests.
Far right protesters sang the national anthem outside the Chemnitz football stadium on Thursday while one group held up a banner proclaiming “We are standing up for our children” as speakers with megaphones addressed the crowd.
In a hall within the stadium, Saxony’s premier Michael Kretschmer called for a minute’s silence to remember the victim of the killing.
“We will see to it that this crime is cleared up,” he told a meeting of concerned citizens attended by several hundred. Earlier, he had promised to make sure “those who ran through the city with Hitler salutes are also convicted.”
Chemnitz lies in the former Communist East Germany which has become the heartland of anti-immigrant groups including PEGIDA and the Alternative for Germany (AfD) political party. The AfD won 13 percent of the vote in a 2017 federal election, its strongest showing yet.
In Wismar, another eastern town, police appealed for witnesses to an attack late on Wednesday on a 20-year-old migrant who was beaten with an iron chain by three assailants.
Chemnitz mayor Barbara Ludwig vowed to clean up her city’s image. “In this confrontation between love and hate we have to meet in the middle to make this city worth living in,” she told reporters.
The AfD and PEGIDA, which is under observation by intelligence agencies, say they will march again in Chemnitz on Saturday to “mourn Daniel H. and the others killed by Germany’s forced multiculturalisation.”
(Additional reporting by Hans-Edzard Busemann; Writing by Paul Carrel and Thomas Escritt; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky and David Stamp)