Crowds Protest Far-Right Talk of Mass Deportations

Chancellor joins demonstration against Germany party meeting
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 14, 2024 10:06 AM CST
Crowds Protest Far-Right Talk of Mass Deportations
People stand Sunday in Alter Markt square during the "Potsdam defends itself" demonstrations in Potsdam, near Berlin.   (Sebastian Christoph Gollnow/dpa via AP)

Thousands of people gathered in Germany on Sunday for demonstrations against the far right, among them Chancellor Olaf Scholz, following a report that extremists recently met to discuss deporting millions of immigrants, including German citizens, if they took power. There were protests in Potsdam, just outside Berlin, and at the Brandenburg Gate in the German capital, the AP reports. They followed a demonstration on Saturday in the western city of Duisburg. Scholz and Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock represent the Potsdam area in parliament, and Baerbock told German news agency dpa that she attended the demonstration there as one of thousands of locals "who stand for democracy and against old and new fascism."

Last week, the investigative media outlet Correctiv reported that a far-right meeting in November was attended by figures from the extremist Identitarian Movement and the far-right Alternative for Germany party, or AfD. A member of the Identitarian Movement, Austrian citizen Martin Sellner, presented his "remigration" vision for deportations. Potsdam Mayor Mike Schubert said that "these plans are reminiscent of the darkest chapter of German history." AfD has sought to distance itself from the meeting, saying that it had no organizational or financial links to the event and that members who apparently attended did so in a purely personal capacity. The proposals discussed would violate the German constitution's Basic Law prohibiting discrimination because of a person's race, language, or country of origin, per Deutsche Welle.

The furor has prompted calls for Germany to consider seeking to ban AfD, which has moved steadily to the right since its founding in 2013, per the AP. Many of its opponents have spoken out against the idea, arguing that even if it's successful, the process would be lengthy and could benefit the party by allowing it to portray itself as a victim. AfD is currently second in national polls, behind the mainstream center-right opposition and ahead of the parties in the center-left Scholz's unpopular coalition. Germany faces the European Parliament election in June and then state elections in September in three eastern regions where AfD is strong. Those include Brandenburg, where Potsdam is located.

(More Germany stories.)

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