Mon | Dec 17, 2018

Rumours fueled far-right protest after killing in German city

Published:Thursday | August 30, 2018 | 12:00 AM


Far-right protesters in Chemnitz, one giving the stiff-armed Nazi salute, hoisted a large banner showing bloodied women's faces on Monday, above the words "we're colourful until the blood flows".

The message to the boisterous crowd was clear: this is what migrants will do to you wives, sisters and daughters.

But the women pictured were actually victims of unrelated violent crimes, in other countries.

Meanwhile, on Facebook and Twitter, posts praised the German victim of a fatal stabbing that had happened a day earlier in the same city, claiming he was protecting a woman from migrants who were harassing her.

But officials say the dispute stemmed from a verbal altercation between two groups, and harassment of a woman wasn't part of it.

Within hours of the Sunday killing, rumours were spreading on social media, sparking spontaneous protests in the city and drawing thousands more to the streets the following night, when the banner was held aloft.

While suspected crimes by migrants regularly draw attention in Germany, a country still grappling with an influx of refugees three years ago, the speed with which far-right extremists flocked to Chemnitz caught authorities by surprise.

Anti-migrant sentiment in Saxony, the eastern state where Chemnitz is located, is high, with about a quarter of voters backing the far-right Alternative for Germany party in last year's election.