Saturday, November 7, 2015

Mass Protests In Germany As Flashpoint Is Reached

Protests In Berlin Demand Stronger Borders, Calls For Merkel To Resign

The anti-mass migration Alternativ für Deutschland (AfD) party held a rally in the German capital Berlin this afternoon, demanding the resignation of Chancellor Angela Merkel and calling for the country to adopt a strong policy on immigration.

The AfD has seen its popularity surge as Germany struggles to deal with the huge influx of migrants, and is currently campaigning in local elections in the Saxony-Anhalt region that will be seen as an indicator of public sentiment on the issue.
German paper Handelsblatt estimates that 5,000 people joined the rally this afternoon, calling for the immediate closure of Germany’s borders and introduction of Visa requirements from migrants from the Balkan states, including Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro.

AfD Supporters (Carsten Koall/Getty Images)

AfD supporters gather in Berlin (Carsten Koall/Getty Images)

The counter-demonstration turns violent (JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images)

An AfD supporter holds a placard depicting Angela Merkel wearing the uniform of the old Communist "German Free Youth". The text says: "With her we have hit the jackpot..." (JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Image)
An AfD supporter holds a placard depicting Angela Merkel wearing the uniform of the old Communist “German Free Youth”. The text says: “With her we have hit the jackpot…” (JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Image)
A protester holds a placard claiming Saudi Arabia finances 200 mosques in Germany (Carsten Koall/Getty Images)
A protester holds a placard claiming Saudi Arabia finances 200 mosques in Germany (Carsten Koall/Getty Images)
A protester holds a sign saying "We'll never vote for you again!!!" (Carsten Koall/Getty Images)
A protester holds a sign saying “We’ll never vote for you again!!!” (Carsten Koall/Getty Images)

Violence erupted in the streets of Berlin today as thousands of anti-immigration protesters clashed with police and counter-demonstrators. 
Pro-migration activists took to the streets of the German capital to shout down the yells of the anti-migrant demonstrators protesting against Chancellor Angela Merkel's open-door refugee policy. 
Furious Germans condemned Ms Merkel, waving German flags and chanting 'Merkel must go' and 'Traitor to the people'.

Around 5,000 people turned out for the anti-migration march, organised by the eurosceptic, populist-nationalist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party under the banner 'Asylum has its limits - red card for Merkel'. 
'We are demonstrating against the asylum chaos caused by Angela Merkel,' AfD member and European Parliament deputy Beatrix von Storch said at the rally.
Five counter-protests in support of migrants saw a turn-out of around 800 people, despite organisers' hopes that several thousand would attend.  
Activists protesting the anti-immigration protest found themselves targeted by police wielding pepper spray, as they attempted to break up the simultaneous demonstrations. 
More than 40 people were arrested and one officer was lightly wounded after the violence broke out. 
Scuffles erupted after police broke up a sit-in by counter-demonstrators, some of whom tried to break through the barriers separating them from the anti-migrant march. 
Officers also intervened to stop angry exchanges between rival demonstrators. 
More than 1,100 police were necessary in the capital to prevent trouble between the rival demonstrators.  
Ms Merkel has faced a growing backlash over her welcoming stance towards refugees fleeing war and persecution as Germany, Europe's top economy, faces a record influx of up to one million asylum-seekers this year. 
Meanwhile, Germany's vice chancellor said today that he considers a proposal made, then shelved, by the interior minister to give many Syrians a restricted asylum status to be finished. 
The definitive close to the suggestion indicates that he doesn't want to set off a new round of political infighting over it.   

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said on Friday that many Syrians should get 'subsidiary protection,' which comes with only a one-year renewable residence permit and wouldn't allow them to bring relatives to Germany for two years. 
Hours later, he shelved the idea, saying things will remain unchanged for now.
Members of Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel's centre-left Social Democrats slammed the conservative de Maiziere.
Gabriel told ZDF television the plan appeared to have been produced at the Interior Ministry 'without consultation, and it is smart that it was taken back again.'
He added that de Maiziere 'took back the measure. And I think the measure is finished with that'.
De Maiziere's idea was that Syrians who don't present evidence of individual persecution but are fleeing the civil war in general should be given 'subsidiary protection,' rather than full asylum status that comes with a three-year residence permit and allows recipients to bring family members. 

Germany saw 758,000 migrants arrive between January and October. Syrians are the biggest single group arriving. 
Last month, the founder of the EDL addressed a 40,000-strong crowd in Dresden, to celebrate the first anniversary of the anti-refugee group Pegida.
Tommy Robinson, the 32-year-old founder of the far-right group, told protesters: 'Do not let Germany be dragged back to chaos and destruction.
'All of your progress is now threatened. Your current chancellor, Angela Merkel, seems to be handing out the birth right of German citizens like she is handing out candy to children.'
He continued: 'I encourage you people to refuse the shame game. Refuse to feel guilty. Germany is not obliged to save the refugee crisis.
'This current immigration is an invasion. Our borders are being overrun. There is little or no control. A country that cannot control its borders will soon not be a country.'  

Police stood ready for action as the demonstration filled the streets of the German capital today

As well as waving red cards for Merkel, many protesters waved German flags and carried bunches of flowers

Counter-protesters in support of Ms Merkel and refugees gather to protest against the anti-migrant march 

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