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News > World

Fears of '2nd Chemnitz' as Afghans Held Over German Man's Death

  • Right wingers attend a protest in Koethen, Germany, September 9, 2018, after a 22-year-old German man died overnight in the eastern town of Koethen

    Right wingers attend a protest in Koethen, Germany, September 9, 2018, after a 22-year-old German man died overnight in the eastern town of Koethen | Photo: Reuters

Published 9 September 2018
Opinion

A counter-demo by left protesters at Koethen's rail station drew 200 people, according to police.

Around 2,500 people marched in a far-right demonstration in eastern Germany Sunday after a man died allegedly following a fight with two Afghan citizens, as officials pleaded for calm to avoid the anti-foreigner unrest that has shaken Chemnitz.

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The incident comes just two weeks after the fatal stabbing of a 35-year-old German man in the city of Chemnitz, after rumors alleged the incident involved two asylum seekers and was heavily instrumentalized by the far-right to inflame racism and anti-migrant violence.

Immediately after news of the latest incident broke, right-wing groups called on social media for a "mourning march" in Koethen from 7 p.m. local time. Police estimated the turnout at some 2,500 people, and reported no major disturbances. Many of the demonstrators waved the German flag and shouted "Resistance! Resistance!"

Bild newspaper said around 100 federal police officers had been sent to Koethen to help keep the peace, after police were criticized for underestimating the scale of the Chemnitz demonstrations.

"With emotions running high, we have to resist any attempt to turn Koethen into a second Chemnitz," the state premier of Saxony-Anhalt, Reiner Haseloff, told DPA news agency. Chemnitz, also located in Germany's former Communist east, has been rocked by a series of far-right demonstrations that saw participants assault foreign-looking people and shout anti-immigration slurs while some flashed the illegal Nazi salute.

Mayor Bernd Hauschild, in a Facebook message, urged locals to shun the right-wing demo because he had "information that people prepared to use violence were planning to travel to Koethen in large numbers."

Local police and prosecutors said the 22-year-old victim had suffered acute heart failure after coming to blows with the Afghan suspects during a dispute on a playground in the town of Koethen late Saturday. The German man's death was "not directly" linked to the injuries suffered in the brawl, they said in a statement, and media reports said he died in hospital and that he had a pre-existing heart condition.

Nevertheless, prosecutors said one of the Afghan suspects, aged 18, stands accused of causing grievous bodily harm. The other, aged 20, faces charges of causing bodily harm with fatal consequences.

According to local media, the latest incident started when three Afghan men were arguing with a pregnant woman over who was the father of her unborn child. Two German men then approached the group and the row escalated into a brawl. The third Afghan was not arrested as he was not believed to have been involved in the fighting.

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