Tens of thou­sands stage anti-racism march in Berlin

Gulf Times - - EUROPE -

Tens of thou­sands of peo­ple marched in Berlin yes­ter­day in a protest against racism amid grow­ing con­cern over xeno­pho­bic in­ci­dents in the east of the coun­try.

Or­gan­is­ers said that at least 242,000 peo­ple turned out for the rally.

Po­lice spoke of “sev­eral tens of thou­sands”.

“Say it loud, say it clear, we are all in­di­vis­i­ble,” the demon­stra­tors chanted as they marched through cen­tral Berlin in blaz­ing sun­shine.

Some held up signs in sup­port of mi­grant res­cue mis­sions in the Mediter­ranean, while oth­ers waved plac­ards read­ing “More love, less hate” and “No room for Nazis”.

The crowds even­tu­ally gath­ered at Berlin’s fa­mous Bran­den­burg gate where a num­ber of Ger­man groups per­formed.

“It’s al­ready a suc­cess,” said Theresa Hart­mann, spokes­woman for the #un­teil­bar (in­di­vis­i­ble) move­ment, who said they had only been ex­pect­ing 40,000 peo­ple to turn up.

The #un­teil­bar col­lec­tive, made up of a num­ber of ac­tivist groups and in­di­vid­u­als, has al­ready staged demon­stra­tions in the north­ern city of Ham­burg and Munich in the south, that at­tracted thou­sands.

They are sup­ported by trades unions, re­li­gious or­gan­i­sa­tions and some char­i­ties.

Foreign Min­is­ter Heiko Maas, a mem­ber of the So­cial Demo­cratic Party (SPD), posted a mes­sage of sup­port on Twit­ter.

The march was partly in re­sponse to the rise of the an­ti­im­mi­gra­tion Al­ter­na­tive for Ger­many (AfD) party.

Build­ing on the backlash to Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel’s de­ci­sion to ad­mit more than a mil­lion refugees in 2015 and 2016, it won its first par­lia­men­tary seats in elec­tions last year.

At the end of Au­gust a far-right demon­stra­tion in the eastern city of Chem­nitz af­ter the mur­der of a Ger­man that was blamed on a refugee de­gen­er­ated into at­tacks on for­eign­ers.

Early this month, Ger­man po­lice ar­rested six men on sus­pi­cion of hav­ing taken part in the at­tacks, de­scrib­ing them as mem­bers of a far-right “ter­ror­ist” group.

A pro­tester holds a gi­ant heart-shaped plac­ard as she takes part in a ma­jor demon­stra­tion yes­ter­day for an open and car­ing so­ci­ety or­gan­ised by the ac­tion group ‘un­teil­bar’ (‘In­di­vis­i­ble’) in Berlin.

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