• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Merkel finally condemns anti-refugee violence

AFP/DPA/The Local · 24 Aug 2015, 17:42

Published: 24 Aug 2015 13:42 GMT+02:00
Updated: 24 Aug 2015 17:42 GMT+02:00

“There was an aggressive, xenophobic atmosphere that is in no way acceptable. It's repulsive how the far right and neo-Nazis are trying to spread their hollow messages of hate.,” Merkel said at a Berlin meeting to discuss Europe's refugee crisis with French President Francois Hollande.

“But it's equally shameful that citizens, even families with children, should once again support these things by participating,” she added.

“Germany is a country that respects the dignity of every human being,” Merkel continued, adding that anyone should have the opportunity to apply for asylum and that she and other political leaders would work to make that so.

“I am glad that the vast majority of people do things in exactly the same way,” she said.

Hollande told journalists that “no situation, however painful, can justify these acts.”

But he added that growing numbers of refugees were a burden for the countries that were taking on the greatest numbers.

“We can see what tensions this can bring out,” he said.

Silence angered critics

Merkel had earlier condemned "vile" violent demonstrations against refugees at the weekend through a spokesman amid criticism she has failed to forcefully address anti-migrant sentiment.

After clashes erupted in eastern Germany over two nights between police and far-right thugs protesting the opening of a new centre for refugees, Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert said Berlin would not stand for hostility against the newcomers.

Police stand over an injured man in Heidenau early on Sunday morning. Photo: DPA

"The Chancellor and the entire government condemn the violent rampages and the aggressively xenophobic atmosphere in the strongest terms," Seibert told reporters, using his strongest language to date to address a wave of anti-refugee violence in Germany.

"It is vile how right-wing extremists and neo-Nazis try to spread their hollow, hateful messages. Those who act like the aggressors of Heidenau place themselves far outside the law."

Seibert called it "shameful" to see citizens, even families with children, joining the protests "to back this horrific sentiment".

Germany is a "compassionate" country and will not allow refugees "to be met here by hateful slogans or alcohol-fuelled loud mouths".

He said all asylum-seekers, regardless of whether their claims would ultimately be approved, deserved to be treated with "dignity and respect".

Story continues below…

Merkel, faced growing calls over the weekend to speak out on aggression against refugees following the clashes in Heidenau on Friday and Saturday night.

Critics also took to social media using the Twitter hashtags #Merkelschweigt (Silent Merkel) and #Merkelsagwas (Merkel, say something).

Merkel's vice chancellor, Sigmar Gabriel, visited Heidenau on Monday and said Germany should not cede "a single millimetre to this right-wing radical mob".

Germany is bracing for a record influx of up to 800,000 asylum-seekers this year and has registered more than 200 attacks against shelters housing or due to house refugees since January.

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the demonstrators in Heidenau did not represent mainstream German opinion.

"Germany today is a country that is open to the world and - even in light of the most recent events in Saxony, I stand by it - a tolerant, culturally rich, diverse country," he told a gathering of German ambassadors.

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

AFP/DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Today's headlines
Germany says 'won't let anyone take Europe from us'
Steinmeier called the European Union “a successful project of peace and stability”. Photo: DPA

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Saturday that the EU would weather the shock of the British vote to leave the union as he convened crisis talks.

Brexit vote
Brexit will turn Berlin into 'Europe’s startup capital'
A sign in Berlin's tech giant and startup-building company Rocket Internet. Photo: DPA.

London is currently thought of as the main hub for startups in Europe, but that will all turn around when the UK leaves the EU, tech industry experts say.

Brexit vote - Analysis
'Germany needs to make UK come to its senses'
British Leave campaigners celebrate Brexit result. Photo: DPA

Britain leaving the EU means trouble ahead for Germany - and its hardest task will be convincing the Brits to drop a self-defeating ideology, a leading foreign policy expert told The Local.

How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)
Photo: DPA.

Considering a change of passport after the UK's vote to ditch the EU? Here’s how to do it.

Germany makes fracking verboten
A sign in North Rhine-Westphalia. Photo: DPA.

German lawmakers approved a law that essentially bans fracking, ending years of dispute over the controversial technology to release oil and gas locked deep underground.

Brexit vote
German far right 'cries for joy' after UK votes to leave EU
Left to right: AfD's Beatrix von Storch and Frauke Petry. Photo: DPA

The far-right AfD party called for a "new Europe" and the resignation of the EU's top two politicians in the wake of the Brexit vote.

Brexit vote
Merkel: Brexit has cut into European unity
Angela Merkel at a press conference after the Brexit vote on Friday. Photo: DPA.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday that the UK's decision to leave the EU has created a "cut in Europe" and the project of European unity.

Couple copulating on bridge shut down Autobahn
Kaiserlei Bridge in Frankfurt. Photo: Dontworry / Wikimedia Commons.

It was a highly unusual choice of location for a romantic rendezvous, police in Frankfurt point out.

Brexit vote
Germany: Brexit vote is a 'sad day for Europe'
A British flag along with other flags of European Union member countries flies in front of the European Council building in Strasbourg, France. Photo: EPA.

Top German leaders declared that it was a "sad day for Europe" after British voters opted to leave the European Union.

Viernheim hostage-taker wasn't carrying lethal weapon
A police officer stands guard in front of the cinema in Viernheim. Photo: DPA

The 19-year-old German man who took over a dozen people hostage in a cinema in western Germany on Thursday was carrying replica weapons, prosecutors have confirmed.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Features
How two gay dads cut through German red tape to start a family
Sponsored Article
Education abroad: How to find an international school
Features
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
Sponsored Article
US expats: Taxes are due June 15th
National
Five things to know about guns in Germany
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Gallery
7 photos which show the aftermath of Bavaria's Autobahn bridge collapse
Culture
10 things you need to know before attending a German wedding
National
Eight weird habits you'll pick up living in Germany
Sponsored Article
Health insurance for expats in Germany: a quick guide
Lifestyle
Six reasons 'super-cool' Berlin isn't all it's cracked up to be
Society
Only one country likes getting naked on the beach more than Germany
Lifestyle
23 ridiculously fascinating things you never knew about Berlin
Culture
8 German words that perfectly sum up your 20s
Sport
How to sound like an expert on German football this summer
Lifestyle
Can't make it past the door at Berlin's most famous club? Help is at hand
Business & Money
Why Frankfurt could steal London's crown as Europe's finance capital
Features
6 surprising things I learned about Germany while editing The Local
Culture
Five sure-fire ways to impress Germans with your manners
Features
6 reasons Germany's summer is unbeatable for thrill-seekers
National
The future belongs to these 10 German regions
Society
How pictures of footballers on chocolates made Pegida really mad
Health
New father's tragic herpes warning touches 1000s online
National
Bayer's Monsanto takeover would be 'diabolical': environmentalists
7,931
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd