Germany: Pegida protests get ugly, mayoral candidate stabbed by xenophobe wins election in Cologne
Last week Germany was in an uproar over a demonstration by the Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West (Pegida) to which a protester brought a gallows with the names of Chancellor Angela Merkel and Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel inscribed on it. Politicians condemned the protest style as unacceptable and the state prosecutor is investigating whether it constitutes a crime.
In Dresden approximately 9 000 people protested on the evening of 12 October against the arrival of asylum-seekers to Germany and the Government's asylum policy. As in previous weeks, the demonstrators chanted slogans against Merkel and the press, with one protester brandishing a gallows with "Reserved for Angela 'Mama' Merkel" and "Reserved for Sigmar 'The Mob' Gabriel" next to the noose, references to the German press's nickname for the Chancellor and for the term used by the Vice-Chancellor previously to refer to ultra-right opponents of asylum-seekers.
German politicians expressed outrage over the demonstration. "Unacceptable! Is this what 'dissatisfied citizens' look like?" tweeted the Social Democratic Minister for the Family Manuela Schwesig.
Peter Tauber, head of the MPs in the Chancellor's Conservative CDU/CSU party, told television station n-tv that he considered the protest unacceptable and to cross well beyond the line of exercising freedom of speech. Other German Twitter users condemned bringing gallows to a protest as well.
The social media outlet featured a discussion of Pegida as a "lynch mob", with some ironically asking whether the gallows is the "Christian" symbol that Pegida wants to protect from "Islamization". The demonstration was the biggest held by Pegida since the end of January, when interest in the movement began to flail after its leadership seemed to crack.
Pegida leader Lutz Bachmann addressed the assembly and said the German Government's asylum policy is leading the EU into civil war, demanding the rejection of all asylum-seekers. Tatyana Festerling, who unsuccessfully ran for mayor of Dresden on the Pegida ticket this summer, called for Saxony to secede from Germany in response to the Government's asylum policy.
Candidate stabbed by xenophobe wins election
Henriette Reker, the candidate for mayor of Cologne who was stabbed on Saturday by an assailant at a market, scored a convincing victory in the local elections there. Cologne City Hall reported that she had received a majority of the votes.
Reker is hospitalized with serious injures but her life is not in danger. She was attacked by a man on Saturday whom police say wanted to demonstrate his disagreement with Germany's refugee policy and his resistance to foreigners in the country.
The Rheinische Post news server reported that the perpetrator did not flee the scene of the crime, but calmly stood his ground and said: "I had to do it. I am protecting you all."
Reker is an independent but is supported by the CDU, the FDP and the Greens. The assailant was immediately arrested.
Police say the German man has already admitted to being motivated by his hatred of foreigners. He testified to having been unemployed for some time and living on welfare after previously working as a decorator and painter, and his neighbors described him as unobtrusive.
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