Germany: Right-wing radicals attack police in Wuppertal, ultra-conservative Muslims and Pegida demonstrating
Violence broke out today in the center of the German city of Wuppertal when masked right-wing radicals assaulted police with rocks. Several demonstrations had been announced there by rival groups, and city hall summoned more than 1 000 police officers with water cannon to maintain order.
The anti-Islam movement Pegida dispersed its demonstration in Wuppertal today after the violence began. A total of 3 000 people, some adherents of the ultra-conservative Islamic Salafists, some right-wing radicals and some Pegida activists demonstrated in the city of almost half a million people located in the south of Germany's Ruhr district.
Concerns over clashes between radically attuned demonstrators dominated the city center, where police blocked several main streets. After recent experiences in Bonn, Cologne, Solingen and other German cities, police had detained many of the demonstration organizers in recent days.
Mayor of Wuppertal Peter Jung called on residents to show democratic maturity in the face of possible violence. "Such events cannot be banned, they are the price of liberal democracy," the mayor told the Deutsche Presse-Agentur.
Police officers using tear gas and truncheons intervened against the assault by masked right-wing radicals. They also had to intervene in a neighborhood on the outskirts to prevent clashes between militant football fans and groups of anarchists.
The demonstration by the Salafists, who assembled near a synagogue, sparked an unrestrained show of resistance by local residents. "It is unacceptable for them to gather by the synagogue, we don't want such people here," a demonstrator said.
Lutz Bachman, the founder of Pegida, spoke to his followers in Wuppertal today and called for calm. "Otherwise you will destroy everything," he urged the activists.
Bachman dispersed the Pegida march after the violence broke out. Since last fall Pegida has been convening demonstrations against the alleged strengthening of Islam in Germany and against the country's openness to immigrants.
The center of the movement is in the Saxon city of Dresden, but its demonstrations have spread to other German cities. Most Pegida demonstrations have not been accompanied by any incidents.
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