On Monday evening 65,000 people stood up against racism and neo-Nazis in Germany, joining an anti-racism rock concert in Chemnitz to condemn the recent outburst of far-right hate and violence in the eastern German city.
“I want to show that it’s not OK that people are walking through the streets doing Hitler salutes and shouting Nazi slogans,” Anna, a 20-year-old at the concert told Der Spiegel news magazine.
Those attending the concert far outnumbered the approximately 6,000 people who took part in a radical right populist rally a week earlier, where neo-Nazis chanted racist slogans, performed Hitler salutes – illegal in Germany – and launched violent mob attacks on people they perceived as non-German, police, and journalists.
The concert, with its slogan #WirSindMehr (‘We Are More’), was important in showing how many people reject racism and intolerance in their midst. Now politicians and state authorities should display the same determination, in Chemnitz and elsewhere, in taking on this scourge.
The trigger for the initial demonstrations was an attempt to politicize the fatal stabbing on August 25 in Chemnitz of a 35-year-old German man of part Cuban origin identified as Daniel H, allegedly by an Iraqi man and a Syrian man, who have been detained by police.
Politicians condemned the killing and many people in Chemnitz, including at Monday’s concert, have offered condolences to his family. His friends have appealed for his death to not be politically hijacked.
Prosecutors are using video footage to trace people who abused and attacked people perceived as non-German and others in Chemnitz in the wake of the killing.
It is important that both those guilty of this murder and those responsible for racist attacks are brought to justice. The German authorities should hold people to account for criminal conduct no matter the background of the victim or perpetrator.
Police in Chemnitz admitted they had been unprepared for the most severe neo-Nazi violence on August 27. It is essential the authorities deploy sufficient resources to protect people, including journalists, from violence, and to permit peaceful protest.
Chancellor Merkel and Germany’s parliamentary parties, apart from the radical right populist Alternative for Germany (AfD), have condemned the neo-Nazi slogans and attacks. Michael Kretschmer, Christian Democrat state premier of Saxony, where Chemnitz is located, has urged people at protests to distance themselves from neo-Nazis. Yet on September 2, AfD leaders joined far-right extremists at a rally in Chemnitz.
Events in Chemnitz underline again how important it is to stand up to racism and intolerance. To show #WeAreMore.