German police arrest far-right members ahead of anti-migrant protest in Cottbus | News | DW | 01.02.2018
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German police arrest far-right members ahead of anti-migrant protest in Cottbus

At least one of the men arrested was a member of the far-right NPD, according to authorities. Police have increased security ahead of a demonstration against the presence of refugees in the eastern city of Cottbus.

The NPD has previously organized demonstrations in Cottbus

The NPD has previously organized demonstrations in Cottbus, including the one pictured above

German police in the eastern city of Cottbus on Thursday arrested six members of the far-right community for handing out bottles filled with tear gas and controversial flyers bearing the logo of the extreme-right National Democratic Party (NPD).

Cottbus has been in the spotlight in recent months due to growing anti-migrant sentiment, resulting in protests calling for refugees to leave the city.

Read more: Cottbus grapples with violence between locals and refugees

What we know

  • Police said at least one of the detainees was a member of the NPD.
  • Authorities said they will bolster security across the city in anticipation of an anti-migrant rally scheduled for Saturday. A counter-demonstration has been organized by the Left Party.
  • Tension has been high in Cottbus after receiving 3,400 refugees since the height of the migration crisis in 2015. Cottbus has a population of about 100,000.
  • The NPD has been described as a neo-Nazi party. However, Germany's top court said last year it does not have the potential to undermine democracy in the country.

Breaking 'public assembly' law

Police in Cottbus said "an investigation has been launched against the men, aged 17 to 32 years, on suspicion of breaching the law on public assembly and their flyers and CS-gas sprays have been confiscated," referring to tear gas by its technical name.

In Germany, organized public assembly, such as protests or demonstrations, must receive advanced permission from local authorities. Cottbus police said the men should have registered their action beforehand.

Read more: A guide to Germany's far-right groups

What's happening in Cottbus now: Last month, five Syrian teenagers were arrested and accused of involvement in two knife attacks. Since then, right-wing groups have started to organize anti-migrant protests.

What happens next: Protests against and in support of refugees are expected to go forward in the city this weekend under heightened police security.

ls/sms (Reuters, dpa, AFP)

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