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Far-right protesters countered by anti-racists in eastern Germany

A 'battle over the soul and the future' of Germany.

An armored police vehicle is brought into position during anti-immigration protests in the eastern German city of Chemnitz.

CREDIT: Boris Roessler via Getty Images
An armored police vehicle is brought into position during anti-immigration protests in the eastern German city of Chemnitz. CREDIT: Boris Roessler via Getty Images

Eastern Germany was rocked this weekend by another spasm of anti-immigrant protests organized by leaders of the newly emboldened far-right. But unlike with earlier protests, they were challenged on Saturday by thousands of anti-racist counter-demonstrators.

The Independent newspaper reported that nine people were injured during Saturday’s violent protests in Chemnitz. The city was the scene of a deadly stabbing last week and a series of increasingly restive followup protests since.

Recent protests have been staged by the right-wing Alternative fur Deutschland (AfD) party and the xenophobic alliance Pegida, along with the right-wing populist Pro Chemnitz movement.

The Guardian, calling the recent demonstrations “a high-profile, high-stakes battle over the soul and the future” of Germany, recounted scenes at one protest last weekend in which thousands of far-right demonstrators linked arms, performed Nazi salutes, and chased anyone on the street they suspected of being a refugee.

But at a repeat protest on Saturday, the Neo-Nazis were met by a like number of pro-diversity demonstrators, who countered shouts of “foreigners out!” with chants like “Say it loud, say it clear. Refugees are welcome here!”

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Germany’s foreign minister on Sunday urged his compatriots to take a more active stance fighting against racism and for democracy.

“We have to get off the couch and open our mouths,” Heiko Maas said in an interview with weekly Bild am Sonntag newspaper. “Our generation was given freedom, rule of law and democracy as a present. We didn’t have to fight for it. We’re taking it too much for granted.”

Chemnitz Mayor Barbara Ludwig, meanwhile, told reporters on Sunday, “The situation is volatile. There is a state of emergency in the town.”

“We won’t allow the right and right-wing thinking to undermine” the government, she added.