German government: Chemnitz protesters should shun neo-Nazis
Germany's government on Monday urged those aggrieved by the suspected killing of a man by migrants in Chemnitz to distance themselves from far-right extremists who have participated in violent, xenophobic protest marches in the eastern city over the past week.
The fatal stabbing of 35-year-old carpenter Daniel Hillig in the eastern city on August 26 sparked a series of rallies, some of which erupted into violence. Protesters looked on as neo-Nazis performed the stiff-armed 'Hitler salute,' chanted "foreigners out" and harassed journalists covering the demonstrations.
"If one doesn't think this way it would be good to draw a clear line and distance oneself from those who are doing that," said government spokesman Steffen Seibert.
He echoed comments by Chemnitz Mayor Barbara Ludwig, who told a rally in the city on Saturday that people who repeatedly join protests by far-right extremists "strengthen the right-wing, violent scene".
The tension that has built up over the past week in Chemnitz reflects the growing polarisation over Germany's ongoing efforts to come to terms with an influx of more than one million refugees and migrants to the country since 2015.
Authorities said a 22-year-old Iraqi and a 23-year-old Syrian have been arrested on suspicion of manslaughter in the Chemnitz killing
"If their guilt is proven, then they will experience the full force of our laws," said Seibert.
Thousands of people were expected to attend a free, open-air concert in the city on Monday intended to send a signal against hatred and anti-migrant sentiment.
The concert, which is being promoted under the #WeAreMore hashtag, is part of an effort by German civil society to position itself against the growing far-right movement in parts of Germany.