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Germany's Foreign Minister: Country Must 'Get Off the Couch,' Fight Racism

As far-right protesters, counter-protesters clash in Chemnitz
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 2, 2018 11:40 AM CDT
Bjoern Hoecke, leader of the Alternative for Germany, AfD, participates in a commemoration march in Chemnitz, eastern Germany, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018, after several nationalist groups called for marches...   (Ralf Hirschberger/dpa via AP)

(Newser) – Thousands of far-right protesters gathered Saturday in Chemnitz, Germany, to denounce migration after a German was killed in the city, allegedly by two migrants from Iraq and Syria. After the march, as well as a counter-protest from leftists in support of migration, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas didn't mince words: "We have to get off the couch and open the mouth," he told Bild am Sonntag, per the AP. "Our generation was given freedom, rule of law and democracy as a present. We didn't have to fight for it; (now) we're taking it too much for granted."

He added, per Politico, "If the Hitler salute is shown on our streets today once again, it will be a disgrace to our country." Tension has been building in Chemnitz for a week, ever since the fatal stabbing; the first protests were last Sunday, the day of the killing. Eighteen people, including three police officers, were hurt during Saturday's protests, and clashes between small groups have been reported. One lawmaker with the Social Democrats party says he and his group "were attacked by Nazis" who destroyed their party flags and physically attacked them. (Read more Germany stories.)

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