Sunday 22 July 2018

Angela Merkel jeered during visit to German asylum seeker shelter

German Chancellor Angela Merkel during her visit to a refugee shelter in Heidenau. (AP)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel during her visit to a refugee shelter in Heidenau. (AP)

Angela Merkel was booed by far-right protesters as she urged Germans to stand up against hatred during a visit to a shelter for asylum seekers.

The German Chancellor had travelled to Heidenau, a small town near Germany's eastern border with the Czech Republic, to express support for refugees following neo-Nazi riots at the site over the weekend.

Dozens of police were injured when a far-right mob hurled bottles and fireworks at officers in an attempt to prevent asylum seekers from moving into the former hardware store south of Dresden on Friday and Saturday.

"It's shameful and repulsive what we experienced here," Mrs Merkel said, speaking of the weekend disturbance.

A couple of hundred metres away, far-right protesters jeered and sounded car horns. Some protesters held placards denouncing the government, while others shouted "traitors" and "lying press".

Speaking to reporters after meeting aid workers, local officials and some of the 560 refugees at the site, she praised those "who have to endure hatred".

"We need to use all our strength to make clear that we won't tolerate those who call the dignity of others into question. There will be no tolerance toward those who aren't prepared to help where help is needed," she said.

She also urged Germans to speak out against anti-foreigner sentiment in conversations with their families, friends and church groups.

Separately, German president Joachim Gauck visited a reception centre for asylum-seekers in Berlin-Wilmersdorf, where he thanked students, doctors and others who had volunteered to help refugees there and elsewhere across the country.

"They want to help, they want to show that there's a bright Germany full of light, as opposed to the impression we get of a dark Germany when we hear about attacks on asylum seekers," Mr Gauck said.

German officials say the country faces a huge challenge finding adequate housing for the tens of thousands of asylum seekers arriving in the country each month. Authorities predict the number of refugees coming to Germany will rise to 800,000 by the end of 2015 - a fourfold increase on last year.

While most Germans have been welcoming to the refugees, a minority has vocally opposed them. Attacks against refugees and asylum centres approximately doubled to 202 during the first half of the year, including eight cases of arson.

Police arrested two intruders with knives entering a refugee home in Parchim in east Germany late on Tuesday. The same night, a man threw a burning object at a planned home for 56 refugees in Leipzig.

Press Association

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