Sunday 27 May 2018

Germany divided on migrants as attacks increase

German Chancellor Angela Merkel
German Chancellor Angela Merkel

Karla Fox in Dresden

Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged Germans to take a stand against "shameful" anti-migrant protests, on a visit to an asylum shelter which was the focus of clashes at the weekend.

Far-right protesters booed and shouted "traitor" as she arrived at the newly opened centre in Heidenau, near Dresden.

Germany has seen a sharp rise in attacks on asylum centres as it deals with record numbers of arrivals.

As she left the centre in Heidenau, Ms Merkel said Germany was facing a "gigantic challenge", with thousands of migrants arriving, hoping for a better life. Germany expects up to 800,000 asylum applications in 2015 - more than any other EU country.

There could be "no tolerance" of hatred, she said, condemning violent protests in Heidenau as "shameful" and "vile". The centre houses about 600 asylum seekers.


On a separate visit to an asylum centre in Berlin, President Joachim Gauck paid tribute to volunteers who had shown a "bright Germany full of light", rather than the "dark Germany" that arose from attacks on asylum seekers.

Dozens of police were hurt at the weekend when neo-nazis and other right-wing extremists hurled bottles and fireworks.

During Ms Merkel's visit, protesters outside the centre chanted "for the German people".

Most people in Germany are welcoming to the migrants, opinion polls suggest. But a minority are vocally opposed, with a sharp rise in attacks on housing for asylum seekers.

Police arrested two men who had charged into a shelter wielding knives in the eastern town of Parchim.

A man in the eastern city of Leipzig was seen flinging a petrol bomb into a building which was due to house 56 asylum seekers.

A school sports hall in Nauen, west of Berlin, was burned down on Tuesday.

Ms Merkel's government has confirmed that it has decided to consider asylum cases from the majority of Syrian applicants, regardless of how they entered Europe.

Cabinet ministers are also discussing plans to give the German regions €500m this year to help with the influx of people arriving.

Irish Independent

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