Angela Merkel accuses far-right of stoking tension after fatal stabbing
Berlin — Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday accused the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) of using violent protests over a fatal stabbing of a German man blamed on migrants to stir up ethnic tension.
Far-right groups clashed with police and chased people they deemed to be migrants in the eastern city of Chemnitz on August 26 after police said a Syrian and an Iraqi had been detained as suspects in the killing of the 35-year-old.
AfD leader Alexander Gauland had earlier this week urged a “peaceful revolution” against Merkel’s liberal immigration policy and said this required banishing politicians and members of the media who support the “Merkel system”.
Asked about the role of the AfD in the events in Chemnitz, Merkel told the RTL broadcaster: “The AfD is stirring up the mood and this has to be said clearly. I view some of their remarks very critically.”
The protests in Chemnitz have started a national debate about whether politicians are being too complacent in the face of rising xenophobia in a country where many had thought the lessons of Germany’s Nazi history had been learned. The protests, during which some members of an 800-strong crowd performed the illegal Hitler salute, laid bare the divisions in Germany over Merkel’s decision in 2015 to take in about 1-million, mostly Muslim asylum seekers.
Some in Germany blame Merkel’s liberal immigration policy for the rise of the AfD, which entered parliament for the first time in an election in 2017 as the third-largest party.
After the violence in Chemnitz, politicians urged intelligence agencies to monitor the far-right party, some of whose members marched with supporters of the anti-Islam PEGIDA group in the city last weekend to protest the stabbing.
Merkel repeated her position in the RTL interview that only intelligence chiefs can decide whether to monitor the party.
“We first want to deal with the AfD politically,” Merkel said.