Right wing groups oppose a newly opened refugee hostel that offers emergency shelter to people who have fled Syria and Afghanistan
Police kept rival protesters apart Wednesday on the third day of demonstrations in suburban Berlin over a newly opened refugee hostel that offers emergency shelter to people who have fled Syria and Afghanistan.
The previous evening, one officer was injured by a hurled bottle and 11 protesters were arrested as passions welled up into violence near the site in a housing estate built in the Communist era.
Authorities have requisitioned a former school as a 200-bed overflow hostel as refugee arrivals to Germany surge.
The site at Hellersdorf in the east of Berlin opened for use Monday. A pro-refugee Berlin group said the ugly reception prompted six people to immediately move out again in fear for their safety.
Wednesday’s rally, held about 1 km from the hostel, was organised by Pro Deutschland, an anti-Muslim group that has previously demonstrated against mosques. About 50 Leftists used whistles and loud recorded music in an effort to drown out rightist speeches.
Police deployed 300 officers to prevent clashes between the rightists and militant Leftists who regularly confront them.
Mainstream parties of the Left have criticised the racists but also accused authorities of insensitivity in setting up such a large overflow site in the low-income estate despite months of opposition.
Petra Pau, the district’s Left Party Member of Parliament, said it was important that the overflow site be temporary only. Pau, who won 48 per cent of local votes four years ago, is seeking re-election on September 22 in Germany’s general election.
Germany distributes newly arriving people claiming political asylum to hostels across the country to await legal processing of their applications.