Jewish restaurant attacked during Chemnitz protests
A gang of neo-Nazis in Chemnitz allegedly staged a vicious attack on a local Jewish restaurant during a wave of violent right-wing protests. The chaos in the eastern city has sent shock waves across Germany.
German authorities are investigating reports that neo-Nazis attacked a Jewish restaurant in Chemnitz last month as far-right protests erupted in the city, according to Die Welt am Sonntag.
The newspaper reported that a group of around a dozen masked individuals stormed the kosher eatery Schalom on August 27, shouting "Get out of Germany you Jewish pig."
The assailants allegedly threw stones and bottles at the restaurant, damaging the building's facade and shattering a window. The owner, Uwe Dziuballa, was also reportedly injured after being hit on the shoulder with a rock.
Read more: Violence in Chemnitz: A timeline of events
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'New level of anti-Semitic crime'
An Interior Ministry spokesman cited by Welt said investigations were ongoing, but confirmed the incident "suggests at present a politically motivated crime with an anti-Semitic background."
The German commissioner for anti-Semitism, Felix Klein, called on police and prosecutors to bring the perpetrators to justice and show that "anti-Semitic offenses will be swiftly punished."
"If the reports are true, then we are dealing with a new level of anti-Semitic crime," he said.
"It calls to mind the worst memories of the 1930s," he added, referring to the rise of the Nazis and their murderous campaign to wipe out millions of Jews across Europe.
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Riots in Chemnitz
Far-right groups staged riots in Chemnitz after the fatal stabbing of a German man on August 26. Two asylum-seekers — a Syrian and an Iraqi — have been arrested over the killing. A third suspect is being sought.
There have been almost-nightly rallies in the eastern city. Sometimes the marches have turned violent, with reports of attacks on police, journalists and people perceived to be migrants. There have also been confrontations in the streets between right-wing protesters and counterdemonstrators denouncing xenophobia.
The unrest has triggered a nationwide debate about right-wing extremism and xenophobia in parts of German society. It has also exposed an apparent rift between Chancellor Angela Merkel and security officials.
Merkel said the images from Chemnitz "very clearly" showed hate and "the persecution of innocent people."
Hans-Georg Maassen, the head of Germany's VfS domestic intelligence service based in Cologne, sparked controversy on Friday when he voiced skepticism over reports that right-wing extremists had "hunted" down foreigners, suggesting that an internet video depicting such behavior could have been faked.
He was contradicted Saturday by Dresden senior public prosecutor Wolfgang Klein, who told the online outlet of the newspaper Die Zeit: "We have no indication that the video could be a fake."
Klein added that his Dresden office was using the video for its investigation into events in Chemnitz.
Dresden is the capital of the state of Saxony; Chemnitz is its third-largest city.
The demonstrations were sparked by a deadly brawl that broke out in the German city of Chemnitz in the early hours of Sunday (August 26). What started out as a war of words resulted in a 35-year-old man being stabbed to death. Hours later, spontaneous, anti-migrant protests took over the streets of Chemnitz.
A German-Cuban man was stabbed in an altercation involving 10 people, several of whom were of "various nationalities," police sources said. The victim, named only as Daniel H., was apparently well-known among various political groups in the area. Two men in their 30s were also stabbed and seriously injured, and a 22-year-old Iraqi and 23-year-old Syrian are in custody over the killing.
By Sunday afternoon, some 800 people had gathered to protest the man's death, including far-right groups. Authorities said the crowd was largely uncooperative and threw bottles at police officers. Police reinforcements had to be called in from nearby cities. The mobilizations were spontaneous and are thought to have surfaced following calls to demonstrate on social media.
German authorities said that that far-right groups spread misinformation on the internet. Among the false claims was that the victim of the knife attack died protecting a woman.
Thousands of far-right and counterdemonstrators faced off in a second day of protest Monday. Several people were injured as objects and fireworks were hurled. Video footage showed the far-right "Pro Chemnitz" movement holding a banner with a quote from early 20th century poet Anton Günther reading "German and free we aim to be."
Counter-demonstrators denouncing right-wing extremism also took to the streets of Chemnitz. Among the protesters were Antifa, who clashed with right-wing demonstrators.
ipj,nm/jlw (Reuters, AFP, dpa)
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