German government urges Chemnitz protesters to shun neo-Nazis

Germany’s government is urging those aggrieved by the suspected killing of a man by migrants in Chemnitz to distance themselves from far-right extremists who have participated in violent, xenophobic protest marches in the eastern city over the past week.

The fatal stabbing of 35-year-old carpenter Daniel Hillig in the eastern city on Aug. 26 sparked a series of rallies, some of which erupted into violence. Protesters looked on as neo-Nazis performed the stiff-armed ‘Hitler salute,’ chanted “foreigners out” and harassed journalists covering the demonstrations.

“If one doesn’t think this way it would be good to draw a clear line and distance oneself from those who are doing that,” says government spokesman Steffen Seibert.

He echoes comments by Chemnitz mayor Barbara Ludwig, who told a rally in the city Saturday that people who repeatedly join protests by far-right extremists “strengthen the right-wing, violent scene.”

The tension that has built up over the past week in Chemnitz reflects the growing polarization over Germany’s ongoing efforts to come to terms with an influx of more than 1 million refugees and migrants to the country since 2015.

Authorities say a 22-year-old Iraqi and a 23-year-old Syrian have been arrested on suspicion of manslaughter in the Chemnitz killing.

— AP

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