Germans dominate world beard championships

The world beard-growing competition took place near Stuttgart over the weekend, attracting 300 hairy hopefuls from around the world. Taking home half the trophies, Germany's victory was far from a close shave.

Germans dominate world beard championships
Armin Bielefeldt of the USA competed in the championsip's "freestyle full beard" category. Photo: DPA

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Germans may have won in over half of the 18 categories, but it was 25-year-old American Daniel Lawlor who took the prestigious "freestyle moustache" prize. His outstanding star-shaped bristles wowed the seasoned judges.

Wolfgang Schneider, 57, won the category "natural handlebar moustache" for the third year in a row. He said he was so inspired by Tom Selleck's facial hair in "Magnum" 38 years ago that he decided to grow his own.

Schneider said whenever he passes a mirror, he has to check himself in it, and carries a handkerchief everywhere just in case he needs to fine-tune his facial fur.

"Beard-wearers are the divas among men, they're always checking their appearance," he said.

CLICK HERE to see our gallery of the Beard World Championships

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Not every bearded contender was so comfortable with the whiskered life, however. Florian Gauder, from Stuttgart, grew his beard specially for the competition, and will shave it off afterwards.

His wife and kids don't like it, the 39-year-old said. And besides, "having an ice cream or a döner is out of the question – it all gets stuck in the beard and stinks – and don't get me started on kissing."

He has enjoyed the contest, though: "it's crazy just how many people have come such a long way just for this weekend, for the world championships."

TV chef Johann Lafer won the world title of "beard of the year", and promised fellow growers he would keep his prize-winning fuzz in top condition.

For him, the greatest part of the world championship is that "the world comes here to grow together."

Schneider paid tribute to the owner of the world's greatest beard: "His beard suits him and that is the most important thing for any beard-wearer."

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Merkel condemns Stuttgart rampage as ‘abhorrent’

German Chancellor Angela Merkel sharply condemned a violent rampage in Stuttgart, her spokesman said Monday, calling the brutal attacks against police officers and the looting of shops by hundreds of people "abhorrent".

Merkel condemns Stuttgart rampage as 'abhorrent'
A sign reading 'Create, don't destroy' in front of one of the damaged windows on Monday. Photo: DPA

“Whoever has done this has turned against their city, against the people with whom they live and against the laws that protect us all,” said Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert of the riots that erupted over the weekend.

READ ALSO: Shock in Germany as hundreds run riot in Stuttgart

German authorities have expressed shock over the rampage of an “unprecedented scale” in the early hours of Sunday in the city centre of Stuttgart, where hundreds of partygoers ran riot, attacking police and plundering stores after smashing shop windows.

Two dozen people, half of them German nationals, were arrested provisionally, as police reported at least 19 colleagues hurt.

Tensions built up shortly after midnight when officers carried out checks on a 17-year-old German man suspected of using drugs, Stuttgart deputy police chief Thomas Berger said.

Crowds who were milling around at the city's biggest square, the Schlossplatz, immediately rallied around the young man and began flinging stones and bottles at police.

The groups of mostly men also used sticks or poles to smash windows of police vehicles parked around the square, which is next to the regional parliament of Baden-Württemberg as well as the state's finance ministry.

At the height of the hours-long clashes, some 400 to 500 people joined in the battle against police officers and rescue workers.

In a speech on Monday, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said perpetrators of the rampage must be “prosecuted and punished with all the severity of the law”.

“We must resolutely oppose anyone who attacks police officers, who shows contempt for them or gives the impression that they should be 'disposed of',” said the president.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer is due to visit Stuttgart along with his state interior minister Thomas Strobl to take stock of the trail of destruction left behind in the rampage.


He also pointed to the worrying trend that police and emergency workers were increasingly coming under attack, both physically and verbally.

“Besides the attacks and insults, there is also disparagement — and that can hurt just like physical violence,” he said, stressing that politicians must stand behind the police.

In a speech on Monday, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier sent the same message.

“We must resolutely oppose anyone who attacks police officers, who shows
contempt for them or gives the impression that they should be 'disposed of',”
he said.

Police unions and emergency workers have been warning of authorities increasingly coming under attack as they go about their work.

Tensions have also spilled over from the Black Lives Matter demonstrations
in the United States where officers are accused of being racist.

In a separate incident in Germany's Lower Saxony state, several police officers were injured while enforcing a coronavirus quarantine imposed on 700 residents of a high-rise building.

And the police union DPolG has filed a lawsuit against a columnist of left-leaning daily TAZ over an article titled: “All cops are unfit for the job”.

On Monday, Seehofer said he too was considering filing a complaint against
the writer, warning that irresponsible speech can lead to dramatic consequences.