Wednesday

29th Jan 2020

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 20 years of archives. 14-day 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. EU commission presents 43 new proposals
  2. EU asylum agency to expand operations in Greece
  3. EU set to repatriate citizens from coronavirus-hit Wahun
  4. German Left MEP resigns over former far-right membership
  5. Sassoli defends 'renewed approach' for enlargement
  6. UK approves limited role for Huawei in 5G network
  7. Cases of coronavirus in France and Germany
  8. Report: EU court seeks authority on post-Brexit deal

Interview

EU Africa envoy: Europe needs to look beyond migration

Europe's obsession with migration from Africa means it risks losing out the continent's potential when it comes to trade, says the EU's ambassador to the African Union, Ranier Sabatucci. "Africa is a growing continent, it is the future," he says.

Feature

Malmo, a segregated city - separating fact from fiction

Despite the neighbourhood's beautiful name, the reputation of Rosengård (Rose Garden) does not so much evoke images of roses as headlines of crime and social challenges. This area of Malmö has been struggling with its notorious, mythical, image for years.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Latest News

  1. EU not prepared for 2015 repeat, warns migration chief
  2. Selmayr did not want top job, says predecessor
  3. EU states wary of MEPs leading future conference
  4. Timmermans: EU climate law will 'discipline' rogue states
  5. In Orban's Hungary, the law is not for everyone
  6. 'Brexit is not going to go away,' warns EU's Barnier
  7. Belgian spy services launch internal clear-up
  8. US and UK in war of words over Huwaei

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  2. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  3. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us