Arab refugees and Germans carrying pro-immigrant and anti-fascism placards marched in Cottbus on Saturday to denounce what they say are attempts by far-right groups to stoke tension in the eastern city after two knife attacks by Syrian teenagers.
The group of around 600 demonstrators in the German city of Cottbus calling for acceptance and open-mindedness were upstaged and outnumbered by a far larger crowd of anti-migrant protesters on Saturday.
At least 2,000 right-leaning protesters rallied under the banner of the right-wing organization “Zukunft Heimat” (Future Homeland) — a group that claims to have successfully grown in numbers in the eastern German city following a string of attack involving refugees since the beginning of the year.
Police beefed up security in the city of 100,000 near the Polish border, where the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) beat Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives in an election last year by appealing to voters angry with her decision in 2015 to welcome more than a million asylum seekers.
Last month, two Syrian teenagers injured a 16-year-old German boy with a knife and a group of three Syrians aged under 17 threatened a German couple with a knife outside a mall in Cottbus.
Police reported no violent incidents during any of the rallies, but said that six anti-migrant protesters were reprimanded for disorderly conduct. One man was detained for repeatedly flashing the Hitler salute, a gesture that is illegal in Germany.
Austin Ohaegbu with agency reports