Ger­mans stage mass protest against far right

Oman Daily Observer - - EUROPE -

BER­LIN: Pro­test­ers from across Ger­many marched through Ber­lin on Satur­day against xeno­pho­bia and the far right in one of the coun­try’s big­gest ral­lies of re­cent years.

Or­gan­is­ers put the turnout at more than 150,000 peo­ple for the demon­stra­tion, which fol­lowed anti-im­mi­gra­tion protests in sev­eral east­ern cities over the sum­mer and a rise in sup­port for the far-right Al­ter­na­tive for Ger­many (AFD) party be­fore a state election on Sun­day.

A po­lice spokesman de­clined to es­ti­mate the size of the crowd at the protest, which was or­gan­ised by rights groups in­clud­ing Amnesty In­ter­na­tional.

Marchers car­ried plac­ards read­ing “Build bridges not walls”, “United against racism” and “We are in­di­vis­i­ble — for an open and free so­ci­ety”. Some danced to pop mu­sic on a warm au­tumn day.

The ar­rival of more than a mil­lion mi­grants, many from war zones in the Mid­dle East, has boosted sup­port for the AFD. It is ex­pected to fare well in the election in Bavaria, long a strong­hold of the con­ser­va­tive Chris­tian So­cial Union, a mem­ber of the Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel’s fed­eral coali­tion govern­ment.

In Au­gust, far-right groups in the east­ern city of Chem­nitz clashed with po­lice and chased peo­ple they be­lieved to be for­eign af­ter the fa­tal stab­bing of a Ger­man man blamed on two mi­grants.

Sim­i­lar protests took place in Dres­den, Koethen and other east­ern cities. Nev­er­the­less, the num­ber of vi­o­lent at­tacks on refugees and asy­lum shel­ters in Ger­many has fallen sharply in the first half of this year.

Two com­pa­nies have also warned their Ger­man em­ploy­ees about the dan­gers of pop­ulism be­fore the re­gional election in Bavaria.

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