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Conflicting interpretations of the Chemnitz riots

September 1st, 2018

A pro-government columnist sees the clashes in eastern Germany as proof of the failure of the open doors immigration policy followed by the German government, while his left-wing colleague thinks Mrs Merkel and her government are the only rampart against right-wing extremism.

After a German citizen was stabbed to death and the identities of the perpetrators (a Syrian and an Iraqi immigrant) were leaked, clashes erupted in Chemnitz on Monday between far-right demonstrators and left-wing counter-demonstrators. The police intervened, whereupon groups of right-wing extremists started chasing people of immigrant-appearance through the streets. Rallies and marches have been held since by both the local supporters of the governing parties and the opposition anti-immigrant AFD party.

The events in the former city of Karl-Marx-Stadt remind Magyar Hírlap’s László Domonkos of Douglas Murray’s ‘The Strange Death of Europe’ in which the British conservative author wrote that the old continent has lost its faith in its core values and is so lacerated by ‘colonial guilt’ that it is destined to be taken over by ‘invaders fiercely confident in their beliefs’. Domonkos contrasts the policies of the German government to the attitude  of Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini and PM Orbán of Hungary who are staunch opponents of illegal immigration and who, he writes, warned Europe several times before the events in Chemnitz. He suggests that the meeting of the two politicians in Milan on Tuesday (See BudaPost, August 30 and 31.) may be remembered in future as an historic one.

In Népszava, by contrast, Gábor Tóth describes the far-right riots in Chemnitz as the consequence of the activities of irresponsible politicians who make easy use of people’s ‘natural mistrust towards aliens’. He considers ascribing the stabbing to the skin colour and religion of the perpetrators ‘a base and cunning lie’ as people fleeing by the thousands from Venezuela to neighbouring countries tend to cause similar problems. Tóth condemns what he calls the ‘political school’ which incites hatred towards aliens and contrasts it to what he sees as a responsible alternative which tries to  mitigate ‘the terror and the wildness in our blood’. That ‘takes guts’, he concludes and praises Chancellor Merkel as a leader with plenty.

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