In recent weeks, Chemnitz became the focus of public attention, in Germany as well as abroad. Over the course of several days, there were right-wing extremist attacks on counter-demonstrators, journalists, Muslims, and the Jewish establishment.
The whole thing was preceded by an argument at a city fair, during which a 35-year-old Chemnitz local was killed in the early hours of 26 August. The main suspects are two refugees from Iraq and Syria. This incident was misused by extreme right-wingers to stir outrage against – primarily Muslim – refugees. Terms such as “Knife Muslims,” “Muslim butchers,” and “Killer-Muslims” were used.
The narrative within the right-wing bubble is that Muslims are slaughtering the German population. Therefore, it is necessary to come out into the streets to defend oneself and ideally topple the government. For example, the anti-Muslim movement “Wir für Deutschland” (We for Germany) wrote in a Telegram group chat: “The fight for survival has begun; if we do not act now, Germany will die and irreversibly vanish.” Underlying this is the widespread fear of a “Bevölkerungsaustausch” – one population supplanting another – an unadulterated conspiracy theory. According to this irrational narrative, the German government is clandestinely pursuing a plan to replace the German people with Muslims. Apart from the clear anti-Muslim perspective, this narrative also contains an antisemitic element. After all, according to the delusional narrative, it is believed that Hungarian billionaire George Soros is behind this plan and who, as a Jew, is secretly ruling the world with the diabolical intent to eradicate the German people.
“F**king Headscarf C**t”
On 27 August, around 8,000 extreme right-wingers and allegedly merely “concerned citizens” followed the call of the anti-refugee and anti-Muslim “Pro Chemnitz” Initiative and marched through Chemnitz city centre at night while bellowing right-wing extremist slogans and doing the Hitler salute. Occasionally, some demonstrators would shout “Jew, Jew” in the direction of the roughly 1,500 counter-demonstrators – this was intended to be an insult. One Belltower.news journalist with a migrant background was called a “f**ing headscarf c**t” by an extreme right-winger in the presence of the police.
“Get out of Germany, you Jewish pig”
On the periphery of this demonstration and after its conclusion, there were repeated attacks against counter-demonstrators, journalists, as well as Muslims. The police operation report states that around 9:42pm “hundreds of hooded people (right-wing) are searching for foreigners.” Around the same time, roughly a dozen masked people attacked the Jewish restaurant “Shalom” with stones, bottles, and a steel pipe, and shouted “Get out of Germany, you Jewish pig!” During this antisemitic attack, windows were broken and the owner of the venue was slightly injured.
Member of German Parliament does not want Muslims in the CDU
Instead of showing solidarity with the victims, a member of the German parliament, Veronika Bellman of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party, fuelled the anti-Muslim debates by arguing against the inclusion of Muslims in the party. In subsequent days, thousands of people joined further demonstrations organised by “Pro Chemnitz” Initiative, the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, and the anti-Muslim and anti-refugee “Pegida” (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident) movement.
About two weeks after the start of the right-wing marches in Chemnitz, a similar tragic incident occurred on 8 September in the Saxony-Anhalt city of Köthen. A young man died in a hospital from cardiac failure following an altercation with two refugees. This death, too, was exploited by right-wing extremist groups. Already on 9 September, they organised an alleged “funeral march,” at the end of which speeches about an imminent “race war” were held.