Attack revives debate about no-go areas
22 August 2007, Berlin (dpa) - The weekend attack on a group of Indian men at a town festival in eastern Germany continued to draw condemnation Wednesday, with warnings that attacks of this kind were part of a pattern in the former communist region and were likely to happen again.
22 August 2007
Berlin (dpa) - The weekend attack on a group of Indian men at a town festival in eastern Germany continued to draw condemnation Wednesday, with warnings that attacks of this kind were part of a pattern in the former communist region and were likely to happen again.
Stephan Kramer, general secretary for the Central Council of Jews, said there was an "apparently dangerous situation" for foreigners in certain parts of Germany.
The authorities should warn foreigners not to settle in certain eastern German regions, he told the online newspaper Netzeitung, adding that a long-running discussion about declaring "no-go" areas should be revived.
Kramer said this was not an hysterical response but "bitter reality." And he accused mainstream politicians of taking up predictable positions without re-evaluating their strategy in combating racism.
The German government has condemned Sunday's attack, in which eight Indian men were pursued through the small town of Muegeln in the state of Saxony by a mob of around 50 youths shouting racist slogans.
At least two of the Indians suffered severe injuries to the face and head.
The minister responsible for reconstruction in the states of former East Germany, Wolfgang Tiefensee, spoke Tuesday of an "unendurable excess of violence."
And the parliamentary head of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU), Volker Kauder, expressed shame.
"I am deeply hurt that something like this is possible in our country," Kauder told the Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper.
But Saxony's prime minister, Georg Milbradt, also a CDU member, warned against pre-judging the issue. The police should be allowed to probe the case, before conclusions were made about the incident, he told national television.
On Tuesday, some 200 demonstrators gathered in Muegeln to express opposition to the attack.
The state government of Saxony has pledged to do everything possible to find those responsible.
Chancellory Minister Hermann Winkler spoke by telephone to Indian Ambassador Meera Shankar after she voiced concern over the incident and called for steps to be taken to ensure there was no repetition of such violence against Indians.
Shankar said an Indian diplomat was being sent to Muegeln to speak to the victims and discuss the security situation with officials in the area.
"It has be ensured that there is no repetition of such a thing," she told the Tagespiegel newspaper, calling on police to conduct a thorough investigation into the attack.
Police stepped up their presence in Muegeln and continued questioning potential witnesses in a bid to track down those involved in the attack.
Following a scuffle in a beer tent, a mob of about 50 German youths chased the Indians across the town square, shouting "foreigners out," as locals looked on impassively.
When the Indians sought shelter in an Indian-owned pizzeria, the mob kicked down the doors and vandalized the owner's car before police arrived and dispersed the attackers.
The Indians, one of whom has lived in the town for five years, suffered facial cuts and severe bruising in the attack, which experts said was racially motivated.
Former German ambassador to New Delhi Hans-Georg Wieck, the chairman of the German-Indian Society, condemned the attack and called for those responsible to be punished.
"I was astonished to hear of the attack. I could not imagine that Germans would resort to violence against Indians. Indians have been living in Germany for decades," said Wieck.
Some 45,000 Indians are resident in Germany. Many were educated here and have settled down and started families, said Wieck. Relations with Germans at communal level were good, he added.
The assault revived the debate about right-wing extremism in Germany, particularly the eastern states which were reunified with West Germany in 1990.
"People with dark skin have a much higher risk of being attacked in east Germany than they do in west Germany," said Sebastian Edathy, a member of the German parliament's internal affairs committee.
Saxony is a stronghold of the extreme right-wing National Democratic Party (NPD), which polled 9 per cent in a state election in 2004 and now sits in the state parliament in Dresden.
Two men aged 21 and 23 were detained in the aftermath of Saturday's melee, but later freed by police, who apparently took an hour to appear on the scene despite being alerted to possible trouble.
Subject: French news