Date
23 October 2017
Policemen block right-wing protesters from an area near a refugee shelter in Heidenau, Germany. Photo: Reuters
Policemen block right-wing protesters from an area near a refugee shelter in Heidenau, Germany. Photo: Reuters

Germany cracks down on racists after attacks on refugee shelter

Germany is cracking down on right-wing militants and racists after a second night of scuffles between protesters and police outside a refugee shelter in an eastern town near Dresden. 

Interior minister Thomas de Maiziere condemned the attacks and led calls on Sunday for tougher measures against right-wing militants and racists.

Reuters is reporting that more than 200 mostly drunk militants in Heidenau threw fireworks and bottles at police just a day after 31 police officers were hurt in violent protests against asylum seekers.

Some shouted “Heil Hitler”.

Amid fears of a recurrence, police on Sunday started to set up a security zone around the shelter, an empty hardware store.

The situation remained tense on Sunday evening when police used tear gas to break up isolated scuffles between right-wing radicals and far-left protesters, German media reported.

Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel will visit the town on Monday.

Europe is struggling with an influx of migrants fleeing war in countries such as Syria and Iraq.

German politicians are worried about the financial and social effects on their country, the EU’s biggest recipient of refugees.

Germany, which has relatively liberal asylum laws, expects the number of refugees to quadruple this year to 800,000.

Chancellor Angela Merkel says it is the biggest issue the EU faces, tougher even than the Greek debt crisis.

Justice Minister Heiko Maas responded to the Heidenau riot by saying there is zero tolerance for xenophobia or racism.

Many politicians have warned about a rise in hostility towards foreigners and in the first half of the year alone, some 150 arson or other attacks were recorded on refugee shelters.

Some of Merkel’s conservatives want to curb benefits for asylum seekers and for other EU states to take up more of the burden.

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CG/RA

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