• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Merkel finally condemns anti-refugee violence
Angela Merkel with French President Francois Hollande in Berlin on Monday. Photo: DPA

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
German populist party in race row over Boateng remarks
Boateng, who has a Ghanaian father, was born and brought up in Berlin. Photo: DPA

A leading member of the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party sparked outrage Sunday after making racist remarks about national football team defender Jerome Boateng.

Dozens hit by lightning strike in west Germany
Witnesses to the lightning strike said it came out of the blue. Photo: DPA

35 people were injured in the west German village of Hoppstädten when lightning struck the pitch at the end of a children's football match.

Dresden 'most woman-friendly’ city in Germany
Photo: DPA.

Sorry Berlin, you're not the most progressive city for women, according to a new report.

The future belongs to these 10 German regions
This east German city won the 'most improved' category. Photo: DPA

A new study shows that one city above all will dominate the future of Germany, but if you're canny you might still want to think about moving to Leipzig or Erfurt.

Fugitive ex-terrorists 'on huge crime spree' in north Germany
(L-r): ex-RAF members Volker Staub, Daniela Klette, and Burkhard Garweg. Photo: BKA

In their struggle against capitalism they once murdered businessmen and politicians. Now three ex-terrorists have taken to robbing supermarkets - and rather successfully, too.

Scooter singer finally reveals how much the fish cost
H.P. Baxxter. Photo: DPA

It is the question Germans have wanted to know the answer to for almost two decades - and now they have the answer, thanks to a US talkshow host.

'I'm definitely not a paedophile': disgraced MP
Former MP Sebastian Edathy is in hiding after a child pornography scandal destroyed his career. Photo: DPA

Former MP Sebastian Edathy quit his job and left Germany after videos of naked children were found on his computer.

Weekend promises storms, humidity - and a bit of sun
A storm in Cuxhaven last weekend. Photo: DPA

The forecast for the coming days isn’t the pristine blue skies many of us are longing for. But, in among the storms, the sun will still peek out.

Prosecutors take aim at unedited Hitler book
An original edition of 'Mein Kampf' featuring a photo of Hitler on an inside cover. Photo: DPA

German prosecutors said on Thursday they were investigating whether to bring charges against a publisher who has promised to print a version of Adolf Hitler's anti-Semitic manifesto "Mein Kampf" without annotations.

VW bets on battery factory for electric car dominance
A VW logo is seen in front of a plugged-in electric car. Photo: DPA

Scandal-hit car giant Volkswagen is set to sink huge sums into building a factory for batteries to power its future electric cars, German media reported on Friday.

Sponsored Article
Eat, learn, live: unforgettable holidays in France
Society
Pegida enraged by black children on chocolate bars
Health
New father's tragic herpes warning touches 1000s online
National
Monsanto takeover would be 'diabolical': environmentalists
Lifestyle
10 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
Politics
MP recites explicit Erdogan bestiality poem on live TV
National
China beats Germany in readiness to help refugees
Hamburg
Headless Lübeck corpse turns out to be discarded sex doll
National
Pensioner claims to have found hidden Nazi nukes
Business & Money
Here's why Munich is worth 20 times more than Berlin
Culture
Five sure-fire ways to impress Germans with your manners
Lifestyle
6 things about Munich that will stay with you forever
Technology
Church plans to connect with faithful at Wi-Fi 'Godspots'
Technology
Online hate speech can cost users thousands of Euros
Society
Bavarians in rush for non-lethal weapons licenses
Sport
Here's Germany's Mannschaft for Euro 2016
Culture
The Syrian pianist playing his way into Germans' hearts
The parrot who flew fast enough to trigger a speed camera
Technology
New law could let free Wi-Fi bloom across Germany
Politics
Berlin's plans to beef up the German army
Sport
Lufthansa's Euro 2016 ad takes aim at England
National
Supermarkets must pay massive fine for fixing beer prices
National
4/20: Five things to know about weed in Germany
Berlin
Police break up hipster swarm at vegan restaurant opening
7,842
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd