“Sad development”

Massive police presence in Bautzen © Xcitepress

An eastern German city in turmoil: after riots between right-wing extremists and refugees in Bautzen on Wednesday, last night was calmer thanks to police presence. With great concern, the local cathedral priest observes the development.

The Catholic cathedral priest of Bautzen, Veit Scapan, has reacted "appalled and saddened" by the recent conflicts between refugees and Germans in the city. They put Bautzen in a false light, Scapan told the Catholic News Agency on Friday.

In Bautzen, there are numerous initiatives working to integrate refugees, they said. In the cathedral community, for example, several working groups were involved in this and offered language classes, among other things.

Many rioters come from the surrounding area

Scapan expressed doubts about whether increased police presence alone would be enough to prevent clashes between right-wing extremists and refugees and their supporters. It is necessary to talk more with those who are open to arguments. "But if you only want to make a racket, keep coming to Bautzen," the cathedral pastor emphasized. Many of those who attacked refugees did not come from Bautzen itself, but from the surrounding area.

After riots on Wednesday night, 350 people gathered at Bautzen's Kornmarkt on Thursday. At first it remained peaceful. Right-wing demonstrations have also been announced for the coming days.

After the night of riots in Bautzen, the police are relying on a massive presence. One will be in the coming days with additional forces on the ground, said the head of the Bautzen police department, Uwe Kilz. Right-wing groups have announced demonstrations in the Saxon city for Friday and Sunday. Already on Thursday evening, according to police, about 350 people gathered on the Kornmarkt and adjacent streets.

Things remained largely peaceful into the night. "The unsightly scenes, as they were to be seen on the Kornmarkt in the past evenings, did not exist today," said Kilz. Against 23.30 o'clock quiet returned to the square.

Earlier, there had been rumors of a demonstration in the city. It should be against the current refugee policy. According to the police, 90 emergency personnel were on the scene in the city. In the course of the evening, officials separated 25 people from the left-wing alternative spectrum, who wanted to make a statement against xenophobia on the Kornmarkt, and about 300 locals.

Shouts of seditious slogans

A man from among the locals punched a filming journalist in the arm, police said. Police are investigating a 30-year-old man for assault and battery. In addition, the police registered another seven offenses, for example, for using anti-incest symbols and shouting an inciting slogan.

Bautzen's Kornmarkt has been in the spotlight for several days as locals and asylum seekers clashed. On Thursday night, violent riots broke out between about 20 refugees and 80 Germans.

According to Bautzen police chief Uwe Kilz, the violence in Wednesday night's riots came from young refugees. From a group of 15 to 20 asylum seekers on the Kornmarkt bottles and stones flew in the direction of the right-wingers, he said. Already in a confrontation last Friday, first the young people would have exercised violence. Police had earlier spoken of "mutual provocations" between refugees and right-wingers, calling the Kornmarkt a "powder keg". Mostly alcohol was involved.

Alcohol ban and curfew

Saxony's Integration Minister Petra Kopping (SPD) spoke on ARD's "Tagesthemen" on Thursday evening of a frightening atmosphere in Bautzen. "There are already regions in Saxony where right-wing radicalism and radicalized attitudes are stronger than in other regions."At the same time, she stressed that the assaults from Thursday night were not representative of Bautzen.

After the riots, the responsible district is cracking down on young asylum seekers. Four ringleaders from one dormitory, aged between 15 and 20, have already been taken to other locations and are said to no longer have any influence on their fellow residents. In addition, from now on there is a ban on alcohol and a curfew from 19.00 o'clock for the approximately 30 so-called unaccompanied, minor asylum seekers living in Bautzen. Outside the asylum shelters remained quiet on Thursday evening.

Bautzen has repeatedly made negative headlines in recent months. In February, onlookers had watched a fire at a refugee shelter. In March, German President Joachim Gauck was insulted and abused during a visit to Bautzen. At the time, he had discussed the refugee crisis with citizens. The recent incidents fuel the debate on xenophobia in Saxony.

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