Kate Connolly

Assault sparks call to curb far-right

East German xenophobia ‘scaring off foreign firms’

Berlin: A leading member of Germany’s Jewish community has accused the government of failing to control rightwing extremism following an attack on a group of Indian men in an eastern town.

Stephan Kramer, the general secretary of the Central Council of Jews said that until a nationwide action plan was launched to tackle the problem, attacks on minorities would only get worse.

His remarks followed a brutal attack on eight Indians in the town of Mugeln, near Leipzig, at the weekend.

During a town festival the men were chased through the streets by around 50 young Germans, who hurled abuse at them, including the taunt “foreigners out”. All of the men were beaten up, one of them seriously.

“Yesay it was coloured people, today it’s foreigners, tomorrow it’ll be homosexuals and lesbians and maybe Jews,” Mr. Kramer told the German daily newspaper Taz.

Prior to the Mugeln incident, police had been braced for trouble in certain east German towns as rightwing extremists commemorated the anniversary of the death of Adolf Hitler’s deputy, Rudolf Hess.

Mr. Kramer said that parts of former communist eastern Germany were “no-go” areas, which people who looked foreign should be warned against visiting. “This isn’t hysteria,” he said. “This is the bitter truth.”

The German Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned the attacks and pledged to put the issue high on the agenda at a strategy meeting of her grand coalition.

There is increasing evidence to suggest that the frequency of far-right attacks is having a detrimental effect on the ability of parts of eastern Germany to attract foreign investment and tourism.