News

Attacks in Heidenau

Chancellor condemns violence

The Chancellor has condemned the violent clashes with right-wing protestors in the Saxon town of Heidenau in the strongest possible terms. "This aggressive, xenophobic atmosphere is absolutely inacceptable," said Angela Merkel. Tomorrow (Wednesday), the Chancellor will be visiting Heidenau herself.

A signs marks the entrance to the town of Heidenau in Saxony

The German government has strongly condemned attacks on an asylum centre in Heidenau

Photo: picture alliance/dpa/Arno Burgi

Chancellor Angela Merkel has condemned the riots in the Saxon town of Heidenau directed against asylum-seekers in the strongest possible terms. "It is abhorrent how right-wing extremists and neo-Nazis attempt to spread their mindless message of hatred," said Angela Merkel in Berlin. But, she added, it is equally shameful that citizens, including families with children, support this anti-foreigner sentiment by marching along.

"Germany is a country that respects the dignity of every single individual," stressed the Chancellor. "That is laid out in our constitution and applies to every person in our country." Every individual is entitled to be treated with dignity and respect here, irrespective of whether they are entitled to reside in Germany as a refugee fleeing war, or whether they have valid grounds to claim asylum.

On Wednesday 26 August the Chancellor is to visit Heidenau to gain a first hand impression of the situation on the ground.

"This is completely alien to our values," says Steffen Seibert

On Monday morning, federal government spokesperson Steffen Seibert also pointed out that the Chancellor had warned at the start of the year of the dangers of following those "whose hearts are cold and who nurse prejudices or even hatred".

"Anyone acting like the violent mob in Heidenau is acting in crass contradiction to the values of our society," said the government spokesperson and pointed to the consequences. "Anyone employing violence against police officers will feel the full force of the law."

The right to be treated with dignity

"Germany is a country that upholds the principles of humanity. It is a country that respects the human dignity of every individual." The government spokesperson pointed to the "countless normal citizens" who are helping in a voluntary or professional capacity "at this time when so many people from all over the world are arriving in our country".

"Germany will not allow refugees to be received with chants of hatred or threatened by an alcohol-fuelled mob." Steffen Seibert pointed to the "difficult situation" in which refugees live.

Mastering the challenge together

The Chancellor and the entire German government are working intensively to ensure that all levels of government – from federal government to state and local governments – cooperate to master the challenges facing us. "A great deal has already been achieved," said the government spokesperson.

"Intensive consultation is ongoing between the federal and state governments. Before the end of September the Chancellor will consult with the state premiers on further measures. The challenge is enormous, but we will master it in a carefully considered, confident manner – and above all together."

There is no room in Germany for right-wing extremists says Sigmar Gabriel

Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Sigmar Gabriel visited the Saxon town of Heidenau on behalf of the German government following violent protests of radical right-wingers in front of an asylum centre at the weekend. "We must not allow this radical right-wing mob to gain one single millimetre," declared Sigmar Gabriel. Anyone chanting radical slogans or hurling fire-bombs deserves only one answer. "You are not one of us". Nobody can afford to look the other way.

At the same time Sigmar Gabriel pledged support from the federal government. "We, the federal government, must now do all we can to let the states use our properties swiftly and without complications, so that we don’t end up with temporary solutions that become permanent," said the Federal Economic Affairs Minister.

Zero tolerance for racism

On Saturday 22 August Federal Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière and Federal Justice Minister Heiko Maas announced that an extremely tough line would be taken in line with the rule of law. Following the violent protests of demonstrators who rejected a new refugee centre in the Saxon town of Heidenau, Thomas de Maizière declared that the German state can defend itself on the basis of the rule of law, and that it will not accept any violence. Heiko Maas announced that there would be "zero tolerance for racism".

In spite of right-wing attacks on refugee hostels, the Federal Interior Minister pointed to the enormous will to help and to welcome refugees in Germany. "We should be showing German public opinion that in spite of all the challenges, there are a great many cases in which things are going well," said Thomas de Maizière. On Tuesday 25 August he visited the initial reception centre in Friedland in southern Lower Saxony.