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AfD party leader Petry banned from Augsburg city hall

February 8, 2016

The leader of Germany's euroskeptic party has been barred from giving a speech in Augsburg's historic town hall. The mayor cited Frauke Petry's comments about using violence against illegal immigrants.

Deutschland Kurt Gribl und Frauke Petry
Image: picture alliance/dpa/S. Hoppe/J. Wolf

The city of Augsburg in Bavaria said on Monday that Frauke Petry, leader of the populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, was a persona non grata in their town hall. Petry (above right) had been due to give a speech on Friday in the historic building, but citing recent controversial statements in the press, the city's mayor has banned her from using the facility.

Last month, Petry said in a newspaper interview that border guards "must prevent illegal border crossings and even use firearms if necessary," prompting a national outcry that the euroskeptic party leader was calling on German police to shoot refugees. "I don't want that either. Armed force is the last resort," she later said, trying to put out the firestorm in the media.

Germans, however, were unconvinced and Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel even commented that Petry "belongs in the intelligence services report and not on TV."

Referencing these comments, Augsburg mayor Kurt Gribl (above left) that Petry's rhetoric is unconstitutional, and thus she cannot be allowed to give a speech in the town hall. He issued the ban in response to a demand from the two city council members who belong to the AfD that the mayor make a call on the matter.

Deutschland Rathaus in Augsburg
Gribl, whose city is famous for bestowing various peace prizes, said Petry cannot give a talk in the same place where the prizes are handed outImage: imago/Stefan M. Prager

AfD bites back

"Of course we will take action against the decision," Markus Bayerbach, one of the AfD council members, told the press, adding that they intended to file an urgent claim with a local judge and hoped to have the ban overturned by Friday.

Bayerback added that it was "unacceptable that a democratically legitimized party should be barred from a space that is available to the other members of the democracy."

Should they accomplish their goal, the rest of the city council has made it clear that they will attend a competing event in another room in the town hall.

es/ (AFP, dpa)