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Outrage after 'noose for Angela Merkel' displayed at anti-refugee rally

The Islamophobic PEGIDA protesters created a miniature gallows.

GERMAN PROSECUTORS SAID today they were investigating after Islamophobic PEGIDA protesters at an anti-refugee rally displayed a miniature gallows with the names of Chancellor Angela Merkel and her deputy.

The probe against persons unknown was on suspicion of public incitement to commit criminal acts and disturbing the peace, charges which carry up to five years jail, said prosecutors in the eastern city of Dresden.

Stunt

Lawmakers voiced outrage over the macabre stunt at Monday night’s rally that drew thousands of supporters of the PEGIDA movement, short for “Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident”.

“It is repulsive and disgusting. Every citizen can see what spirit prevails here,” said Michael Kretschmer of Merkel’s conservatives.

The rule of law must be brought to bear with full force.

Germany’s far-right has increasingly vented its fury over Merkel’s decision to open the borders to up to one million asylum seekers this year, and xenophobic hate crimes have spiked.

The gallows prop with a hangman’s noose seen Monday carried a cardboard sign saying it was “reserved” for Merkel and the vice chancellor, Sigmar Gabriel of the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD).

State investigators were trying to ascertain who had brought it to the demonstration of the movement, which turns one year old next week, a prosecution service spokesman told private news channel N24.

Threatened

SPD lawmaker Niels Annen, speaking to Handelsblatt business daily, said there must be consequences “when democratically elected representatives of our country are, even symbolically, threatened with death”.

This should include the rally organisers “who apparently tolerate hateful slogans and symbols”, he said, adding that PEGIDA’s self-proclaimed “concerned citizens” were showing their “true face”.

Only the small populist-nationalist Alternative for Germany party refused to distance itself from PEGIDA, with its Saxony state chief Uwe Wurlitzer telling Handelsblatt that it “is a citizens’ movement whose followers are exercising their right to freedom of assembly”.

The chairman of the German police union, Rainer Wendt, said security forces must keep a close eye on PEGIDA and “prevent the spread of a new, organised right-wing terrorism”.

Germany was shocked to learn in 2011 that a neo-Nazi death squad calling itself the National Socialist Underground (NSU) had gone on a seven-year killing spree that claimed 10 lives, nine of them people with migrant backgrounds.

“There must not be a second NSU,” said Wendt.

- © AFP, 2015

Read: A Hitler mockumentary has touched a nerve in Germany>

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