The streets of the a Berlin neighborhood were filled with people protesting the recent displays of anti-immigrant hate from the far-right in Chemnitz. Their march coincided with fresh protests in Chemnitz.
What was expected to be a small gathering of one hundred or so individuals speaking out against hate and xenophobia turned into a demonstration of thousands in the Berlin neighborhood of Neukölln on Thursday night.
The demonstration was a counteraction to the far-right protests that have taken place in the city of Chemnitz over the past days and which have included anti-immigrant violence and intimidation. The initial trigger for the protests was the fatal stabbing of a 35-year-old German-Cuban man on Sunday, with two foreign-born men under arrest as suspects in the crime.
While events in the German capital were getting underway, far-right supporters in Chemnitz launched a fresh protest, drawing around 1,000 people. They proceeded without violence as state-level politicians met with the city’s citizens.
The events that spiraled out of the stabbing have drawn international attention to Germany’s struggle to deal with both anti-foreigner sentiment and its far right-wing factions, which have strong roots in the state of Saxony.
Marching against right-wing violence
The anti-hate demonstration in Berlin was organized by various left-wing political and activist groups, including a local branch of left-wing Linke party. It took place under the motto, “Whether Chemnitz or Neukölln: Take to streets against right-wing violence.”
Berlin police reported that some 5,000 participants took part in the march, German news agency dpa reported. Police also said that a private individual had initially registered the event with an expected attendance of 100.
The demonstration was expected to proceed from Hermannplatz to the city hall of Neukölln, a Berlin area known for its diverse inhabitants.
A look at what sparked the protests: The week’s demonstrations in Chemnitz and Thursday’s in Berlin can be traced back to the fatal stabbing of a German-Cuban man during the early hours of Sunday in Chemnitz. People of “various nationalities” had been involved in the altercation, police said. They took a 22-year-old Iraqi man and a 23-year-old Syrian man into custody in connection with the stabbing, later issuing arrest warrants for them.
Far-right groups subsequently took to social media, using false information to call for anti-immigrant protests that took place later on Sunday. Their protests continued into Monday and included clashes with counterprotesters and more violence aimed at foreign-looking individuals.
The general reaction in Germany: In the aftermath of the Chemnitz protests, many politicians, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, said that right-wing violence had no place in Germany. Local security forces were also criticized for failing to deal appropriately with the far-right violence. The violence has also been condemned internationally.
Criminal probe over leaked documents: Public prosecutors will continue to investigate who leaked the arrest warrant of one of the stabbing suspects online to far-right groups. Currently, an official in a Dresden penitentiary is thought to be behind the leak and has been suspended from his position.
Protests expected to continue: More far-right demonstrations have been planned for September 1 in Chemnitz, with the AfD as one of the organizers. Additional police are expected to be brought in from other areas of Germany.