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ANGELA MERKEL

Merkel ‘outraged’ by Nazi chants in far-right rally

German Chancellor Angela Merkel voiced anger Monday against Nazi chants by far-right demonstrators marching over the death of a German man following a fight with two Afghans.

Merkel 'outraged' by Nazi chants in far-right rally
Merkel and spokesman Steffen Seibert at a weekly press conference in July. Photo>

Local police and prosecutors said the 22-year-old deceased had suffered  acute heart failure after coming to blows with the suspects on a playground in  the eastern town of Köthen late Saturday.

The far-right swiftly mobilized a demonstration on Sunday evening that drew  2,500 participants including 400 to 500 known extremists, authorities from the state of Saxony-Anhalt said.

The rally was billed as a mourning march, but groups of mostly white men were filmed chanting “national socialism, now, now now” – a reference to the Nazis' declared ideology – according to footage circulating on social media.

“At the end of the day in Köthen, a video shows open Nazi chants – that must affect us and outrage us,” said Steffen Seibert, Merkel's spokesman.

Saxony-Anhalt state's interior minister Holger Stahlknecht said several investigations have been launched over incitement to hatred over speeches given during the rally. 

Investigators are also examining chants shouted during the demonstration.

The far-right party AfD has announced a new rally for Monday night, although it said in its call for assembly that political speeches would not be made.

In a video posted online by Buzzfeed, a man the website identified as a member of the far-right scene, David Köckert, was seen telling the crowd to loud applause that “we must defend ourselves in the race war against the German people, which is what happened here.”

“Do you want to continue to be bleating sheep or do you want to become  wolves and shred them to pieces?” asked the man to cheers.

Authorities have said the death of the man was “not directly” linked to the  injuries he suffered in the fight.

But fears were growing that the latest case could further inflame anti-migrant tensions, as it comes two weeks after the fatal stabbing of a 35-year-old man in the eastern city of Chemnitz that sparked xenophobic protests.

Two suspects – an Iraqi and a Syrian – have been arrested over the stabbing and a third man, also an Iraqi, is sought.

The Chemnitz protests have also led to a clash between Merkel and the head 
of Germany's domestic intelligence agency, who raised doubts on a video 
purportedly showing a “hunt on foreigners” by neo-Nazi mobs.

Merkel's spokesman and the chancellor herself have repeatedly used the 
description in condemning the violent protests.

But spy chief Hans-Georg Maassen told the Bild daily that he had “no proof” 
that the video circulating online, which appeared to show immigrants being 
accosted and chased, was authentic.

Maassen, under pressure to show proof to back his claim, has submitted to 
the government a report, which is being “examined”, said both Seibert and the 
interior ministry.

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POLITICS

Sleep, seaside, potato soup: What will Merkel do next?

 After 16 years in charge of Europe's biggest economy, the first thing Angela Merkel wants to do when she retires from politics is take "a little nap". But what about after that?

Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel briefly closes her eyes and smiles at a 2018 press conference in Berlin.
Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel briefly closes her eyes at a 2018 press conference in Berlin. Aside from plans to take "a little nap" after retiring this week, she hasn't given much away about what she might do next. Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP

The veteran chancellor has been tight-lipped about what she will do after handing over the reins to her successor Olaf Scholz on December 8th.

During her four terms in office, 67-year-old Merkel was often described as the most powerful woman in the world — but she hinted recently that she will not miss being in charge.

“I will understand very quickly that all this is now someone else’s responsibility. And I think I’m going to like that situation a lot,” she said during a trip to Washington this summer.

Famous for her stamina and her ability to remain fresh after all-night meetings, Merkel once said she can store sleep like a camel stores water.

But when asked about her retirement in Washington, she replied: “Maybe I’ll try to read something, then my eyes will start to close because I’m tired, so I’ll take a little nap, and then we’ll see where I show up.”

READ ALSO: ‘Eternal’ chancellor: Germany’s Merkel to hand over power
READ ALSO: The Merkel-Raute: How a hand gesture became a brand

‘See what happens’
First elected as an MP in 1990, just after German reunification, Merkel recently suggested she had never had time to stop and reflect on what else she might like to do.

“I have never had a normal working day and… I have naturally stopped asking myself what interests me most outside politics,” she told an audience during a joint interview with Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

“As I have reached the age of 67, I don’t have an infinite amount of time left. This means that I want to think carefully about what I want to do in the next phase of my life,” she said.

“Do I want to write, do I want to speak, do I want to go hiking, do I want to stay at home, do I want to see the world? I’ve decided to just do nothing to begin with and see what happens.”

Merkel’s predecessors have not stayed quiet for long. Helmut Schmidt, who left the chancellery in 1982, became co-editor of the weekly newspaper Die Zeit and a popular commentator on political life.

Helmut Kohl set up his own consultancy firm and Gerhard Schroeder became a lobbyist, taking a controversial position as chairman of the board of the Russian oil giant Rosneft.

German writer David Safier has imagined a more eccentric future for Merkel, penning a crime novel called Miss Merkel: Mord in der Uckermark  that sees her tempted out of retirement to investigate a mysterious murder.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel forms her trademark hand gesture, the so-called “Merkel-Raute” (known in English as the Merkel rhombus, Merkel diamond or Triangle of Power). (Photo by Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP)
 

Planting vegetables
Merkel may wish to spend more time with her husband Joachim Sauer in Hohenwalde, near Templin in the former East Germany where she grew up, and where she has a holiday home that she retreats to when she’s weary.

Among the leisure activities she may undertake there is vegetable, and especially, potato planting, something that she once told Bunte magazine in an interview in 2013 that she enjoyed doing.

She is also known to be a fan of the volcanic island of D’Ischia, especially the remote seaside village of Sant’Angelo.

Merkel was captured on a smartphone video this week browsing the footwear in a Berlin sportswear store, leading to speculation that she may be planning something active.

Or the former scientist could embark on a speaking tour of the countless universities from Seoul to Tel Aviv that have awarded her honorary doctorates.

Merkel is set to receive a monthly pension of around 15,000 euros ($16,900) in her retirement, according to a calculation by the German Taxpayers’ Association.

But she has never been one for lavish spending, living in a fourth-floor apartment in Berlin and often doing her own grocery shopping.

In 2014, she even took Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to her favourite supermarket in Berlin after a bilateral meeting.

So perhaps she will simply spend some quiet nights in sipping her beloved white wine and whipping up the dish she once declared as her favourite, a “really good potato soup”.

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