Sunday

19th Aug 2018

German AfD party reviled over 'shoot refugees' comments

  • AfD protest, with Pretzell (above the letters 'br') and Petry on his right. Above the 'g' is Von Storch (Photo: AfD)

German anti-immigrant and eurosceptic party Alternative for Germany (AfD) has found itself cornered over comments on shooting refugees who try to cross the border illegally.

On Saturday (30 January), regional daily Mannheimer Morgen published an interview with AfD chairperson Frauke Petry, to discuss her plan for “comprehensive checks” on the German-Austrian border to prevent unregistered refugees from coming in.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

She said police must “prevent illegal border crossings, if necessary also by using firearms”, noting that it was “in the law”.

“No policeman wants to shoot at refugees. I don't want that. But the use of firearms is part of the last resort," she said, adding that it was crucial “not to let it come that far”.

It wasn’t the first time an AfD member discussed the use of firearms to prevent border crossings.

In November 2015, an AfD member of the European Parliament (MEP) Marcus Pretzell already noted “the defence of Germany borders with armed force as a last resort is self-evident”.

Following Petry's comments, a third AfD member also discussed the possibility of shooting refugees.

MEP Beatrix von Storch, AfD vice-chairwoman since mid-January, was asked her via her public Facebook page if border police should use armed force to prevent women with children crossing the border illegally. She replied: "Yes".

After heavy criticism, she tried to nuance her comment, saying on Monday (1 February) that the use of firearms against children was "rightly, not allowed”.

“But women are, unlike children, sensible, so that the use here may be allowed under the legally narrow limits of [paragraphs] 11,12 and 13 of the UZwG," she wrote, referring to a law on the use force by German authorities.

A spokesperson for the federal interior ministry said on Monday “the use of firearms against people to stop an illegal border crossing is unlawful”.

"It goes without saying: No German policeman will use a firearm against people who are searching for protection in Germany,” spokesperson Johannes Dimroth told journalists.

Von Storch, a former lawyer, tried to defend her comments as being of a purely legalistic nature, but the mere debate on the issue has brought back bad memories of people being shot when they tried to breach the Berlin Wall - and strident criticism by the AfD's political opponents.

Centre-left vice-chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said on Sunday that the AfD merits scrutiny by German intelligence, along with other left and right-wing extremists.

“To me, the AfD belongs in the Annual Report on the Protection of the Constitution, and not on TV,” he said, according to Bild am Sonntag.

Gabriel's fellow Social Democrat party MP, Thomas Oppermann, said Petry's proposal was "reminiscent of the firing order in the GDR", the communist German Democratic Republic, which used lethal force to prevent people from fleeing its territory.

“The last German politician who was shooting at refugees was [GDR leader] Erich Honecker,” said Oppermann.

One of the AfD’s founders, Bernd Lucke, who since left the party to set up a new one, also said the way the AfD regarded refugees was “inhuman”.

He said he “did not expect this radicalisation”.

Meanwhile, attacks against planned or inhabited refugee shelters in Germany have continued.

A police chief in the eastern German city of Leipzig said he was very worried about the situation, noting there was a “pogrom atmosphere” in which some people felt justified to use violence against asylum seekers.

Meanwhile, police in Cologne are looking to increase security ahead of a carnival, which begins on Thursday (4 February).

The city is under scrutiny after groups of men, mostly of “North African or Arab appearance”, attacked women on New Year’s Eve, triggering an emotional debate on how to integrate the hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants coming to the EU's largest state.

This article initially said Von Storch was asked via Facebook if border police should shoot women with children crossing the border illegally. This was corrected on 4 February to say she was asked if border police should use armed force ('mit Waffengewalt' in the German language) to prevent women with children crossing the border illegally.

Syrians tell Cologne: 'We're against sexism'

Syrians and Germans held a protest on Saturday to show their aversion to sexism, but also to racism. “We experience sexism from men of all nationalities," one woman said.

Analysis

How Cologne assaults stunned authorities and media

The revelation and coverage of mass sexual assaults on women on New Year's Eve demonstrate the challenges in Germany's debates on integration, political correctness, and sexism.

News in Brief

  1. Germany and Greece strike deal on taking back migrants
  2. Merkel confronts far-right critics: '2015 will not be repeated'
  3. UN: Predictable disembarkation process urgently needed
  4. Slovenia set to select former comedian as prime minister
  5. Polish president to veto election rule helping big parties
  6. MEPs blast UK 'alphabetical approach' on citizens rights
  7. EU hits back over Salvini's blame for bridge collapse
  8. Poll: Sweden's social democrat-led government set to win again

EU ready to shore up Morocco migrant funding

The European Commission says it is ready to boost spending in Morocco when it comes to stop migrant hopefuls from reaching Spain by boat. The money follows demands for help from Madrid as irregular arrival numbers spike in Spain.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  2. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  3. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  4. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  5. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  6. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  8. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  10. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  12. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma

Latest News

  1. EU gets record response on 'summertime' consultation
  2. 'Nativism' and the upcoming Swedish and Bavarian elections
  3. Former Malta opposition leader fears for his life
  4. Women shun EU-funded site for female entrepreneurs
  5. Building a Europe more resilient to terrorism
  6. Brexit talks resume as chance of 'no deal' put at 50:50
  7. US trial sheds light on murky Cyprus-Russia links
  8. Burned cars fuel Swedish election debate

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  4. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  6. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development
  8. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman Requests More Lending Transparency from European Investment Bank
  9. FIFARecycling at the FIFA World Cup in Russia
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  11. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and Reconciliation Is a Process That Takes Decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  12. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us