AfD leader defends riots in Chemnitz

Source: Xinhua| 2018-08-31 21:36:30|Editor: xuxin
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BERLIN, Aug. 31 (Xinhua) -- Alexander Gauland, the deputy leader of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, has defended a recent series of far-right riots in the East German town of Chemnitz on Friday.

Speaking to public broadcaster ZDF, Gauland argued that it was understandable that the suspected murder of a 35-year-old German by a 22-year-old Iraqi and 23-year-old Syrian citizen at the Chemnitz City Festival on Sunday had inspired public displays of anger. "It is legitimate to go berserk after this kind of crime," he said.

However, the AfD delegate added that it was "obviously not legitimate" for protestors to chase (foreign-looking) civilians and use the banned Nazi-era Hitler salute as witnessed during the violent demonstrations organized by the far-right Pro Chemnitz group.

Gauland complained that Hooligans and right-wing extremists who joined the marches had sought to "instrumentalize" them for their own political ends.

Since Sunday, local police have struggled to maintain control of the town in Saxony, officially renamed Karl-Marx-City between 1953 and 1993, as up to 6,000 protestors mobilized on its streets during spontaneous Pro Chemnitz demonstrations. The events led Ernst Walter, president of the Federation of German Police Officers (BDK), to issue a dramatic warning in Handelsblatt newspaper that security officers could no longer guarantee the rule of law in parts of the country.

"We already have temporary police-free zones because of the severe lack of personnel," Walter said.

Earlier, German Chancellor Angela Merkel had emphasized that her government would not tolerate citizens resorting to lynch justice rather than turning to the responsible security authorities to resolve incidents of crime. "We have video material of angry mobs chasing down civilians and of open hatred on the street, neither of which is compatible with the rule of law," Merkel said.

Addressing Chemnitz residents during a discussion forum on Thursday night, Saxon governor Michael Kretschmer promised that prosecutors would resolve the informational leak as well as the murder case swiftly and resolutely. Kretschmer urged citizens to distance themselves clearly from right-wing extremists, but cautioned outside observers not to pre-maturely tar all inhabitants of the city with the same brush.