Supporters of the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party have staged a rally to protest against the alleged “Islamization” of Germany’s city of Rostock. Thousands of people took part in counter-protests.
The protesters carrying German national flags and holding banners and placards that read “Come, we save Rostock!” and “Stop Islamization!” marched through the city center to the square outside the city hall.
The event was organized by the AfD under the slogan “For our country and our children!” The rally was attended by Bjoern Hoecke, a regional MP and the leader of the AfD branch in the German state of Thuringia. Hoeke is known for his hardline anti-immigration stance and is considered to be one of the leaders of the nationalist wing of the party.
Some 700 people took part in the AfD rally, according to police. The AfD itself put the number of demonstrators at 400, according to the German media. At the same time, the rally sparked a series of counter-protests, which were joined by almost ten times as many people.
As many as seven counter-protests have been announced in the city. Some 4,000 people joined the rallies organized by various anti-fascist groups, NGOs and trade unions. Between 2,500 and 3,500 people took part just in one such protest organized by the groups “Rostock Helps” and “Rostock Nazifrei” (Rostock free of Nazis). A sit-in organized by some 150 counter protestors forced the AfD march to change its route.
Yet all demonstrations were peaceful, although the police reinforced by officers from other German states were ready to deploy water cannons in case of any riots.
The protest came just a day after a far-right pro-Chemnitz group staged another rally in the German eastern city of Chemnitz. The demonstrators were protesting the release of an Iraqi, who was earlier suspected of fatally stabbing a local German man.
The incident triggered a wave of far-right and right-wing rallies, some of which escalated into skirmishes between riot police and protesters, resulting in multiple arrests and injuries. The right-wing rallies were also met with counter protests from the left, who opposed the “hatred” against the migrants. The rival protesters clashed with each other on several occasions.
This time, some 2,000 people took part in the rally, which was mostly peaceful. The rally was met by a 400-strong counter-protest while some 800 police officers were deployed to protect the public order in the city. At the same time, a group of people, who are suspected to be part of the far-right demonstration, reportedly chased a journalist covering the event and attacked a local center, hosting offices of various left-wing organizations, including the local office of the German Left Party. The assailants threw eggs at the doors of the building and broke a window, according to the German media.
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