Germans told to ‘get off sofa’ amid far-right protests

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Germans have been urged to “get off the sofa and open the mouth” as the nation’s foreign minister suggested his countrymen are too lazy when it comes to battling racism.

Heiko Mass intervened amid an outbreak of anti-immigration and far-right protests in Germany, which have also been accompanied by street violence and attacks on migrants.

“We have to get up from our sofas and open our mouths,” the top politician told Germany’s largest-selling Sunday newspaper, Bild am Sonntag.

“All of us have to show the world that we democrats are the majority and the racists are the minority.

“The silent majority must get louder.”

The continuing turmoil in Germany follows the arrest of a Syrian and an Iraqi over the fatal stabbing of a German man in Chemnitz, Saxony.

Far-right protest in Chemnitz, Germany  Germans told to ‘get off sofa’ amid far-right protests skynews chemnitz germany protests 4409489
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Far-right protests have been staged in Chemnitz since a fatal stabbing

The incident lit the touch paper on political tensions over immigration, which have simmered since Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed those fleeing wars in the Middle East and Africa in 2015.

More than 1.6 million people have entered Germany over the last four years.

On Saturday, 18 people – including three police officers – were injured as the far-right and counter-protesters engaged in scuffles in Chemnitz.

Police estimated that more than 11,000 demonstrators turned up for the separate protests.

The anti-Islam Alternative fur Deutschland (AfD), Germany’s largest opposition party, and PEGIDA street movement saw around 8,000 answer their call for fresh protests in Chemnitz.

But they were met by a 3,000-strong group who gathered to demonstrate against racism, with their number including Green Party and Social Democratic Party MPs.

CHEMNITZ, GERMANY - AUGUST 27: A man raises his arm in a Heil Hitler salute towards heckling leftists at a right-wing protest gathering the day after a man was stabbed and died of his injuries on August 27, 2018 in Chemnitz, Germany.  Germans told to ‘get off sofa’ amid far-right protests skynews germany chemnitz hitler 4403794
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Illegal Nazi salutes have been spotted at demonstrations

Police were examining at least 37 possible offences, including bodily harm, property damage and resistance against officers.

As well as provoking large protests, the Chemnitz incident has also raised questions about links between authorities and the far-right.

The leaking of the arrest warrant for one of the two Chemnitz stabbing suspects to PEGIDA, revealing their migrant status, sparked concerns some officials were sympathetic to the Islamophobic group.

Elsewhere, police in the southern state of Bavaria are investigating two suspended officers suspected of performing the Nazi salute, which is banned in Germany, in a pub in the city of Rosenheim.

“We will not allow the extreme right to infiltrate our society,” justice minister Katarina Barley also told Bild am Sonntag.



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