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Movie star unleashes on fans in refugee row

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Movie star unleashes on fans in refugee row
Till Schweiger on the set of Inglorious Basterds. Photo: DPA
17:40 CEST+02:00
Inglorious Basterds star Till Schweiger blasted fans who left dozens of anti-immigrant comments on his Facebook page, feeding a feverish national debate on asylum policy Monday.

Schweiger, 51, best known to international audiences for his role as a Nazi hunter in Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds", had on Saturday posted on Facebook a Hamburg newspaper's appeal for donations to help new asylum seekers.

"My call to Hamburg: everybody take part!!!" he wrote, drawing more than 19,000 "likes" and over 1,000 "shares" on other Facebook pages.

But within minutes the post also drew dozens of viciously racist comments with several questioning why a wealthy celebrity should urge the less fortunate to give money to charity.

"There's room for 1-2 refugee families in your Swiss villa," a Facebook user named Milano Verde wrote in one of the milder entries.

The deluge of negative comments prompted a furious response from Schweiger: "Oh man, I was afraid this would happen!! You make me want to throw up! Get off my page you pitiless people! You make me sick!!!"

His tirade garnered more than 44,000 "likes" and led the top-selling Bild newspaper to declare him, in a regular front-page feature, "Winner of the Day" on Monday.

Schweiger, Germany's most bankable actor-director and a star of its longest-running television crime show "Tatort", told Bild he thought the wave of hatred was "horrible".

"I am ashamed of these people in Germany," he said.

The high-profile spat comes amid rising tensions in the country over a strong influx of asylum seekers, expected to reach 450,000 this year.

Xenophobic sentiment has swept some regions and President Joachim Gauck this month denounced a series of arson attacks against buildings set to house refugees as "despicable".

Chancellor Angela Merkel found herself caught up in the debate last week when she was confronted by a 14-year-old Palestinian refugee who burst into tears when she described her family's anxiety about their possibly imminent
deportation.

A video of the encounter, in which Merkel awkwardly tried to comfort the girl, went viral on social media with critics calling the German leader heartless and demanding swift reforms to asylum policy. 

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