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Germany reviews parliament security after US Capitol riot

January 7, 2021

Germany is to look at beefing up security at its own national parliament after the storming of the US Congress by violent protesters.

Protesters and police outside the Reichstag
The Reichstag has provided a focus for many of the protests against coronavirus restrictions Image: picture-alliance/dpa/K. Nietfeld

The president of Germany's lower legislative house, Wolfgang Schäuble, on Thursday said officials would examine improvements that could be made to parliamentary security in Germany after the storming of the US Capitol building.

Schäuble's office said he would examine "what conclusions should be drawn from this for the protection of the Bundestag," as the lower house is called, in light of the scenes from Washington.

The German government has requested its embassy in Washington provide a report on how the "violent excesses could have happened in the Capitol."

It is expected that the review will involve consultation with the security representatives of the various political parties in parliament, as well as the state of Berlin and the German Interior Ministry.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said the scenes from Washington DC had made her "angry and sad," and that President Donald Trump shared some of the blame for not conceding defeat in last year's presidential elections.

However, the revision of security at the Bundestag is not only prompted by the events in Washington. It also comes after demonstrators against coronavirus restrictions tried to storm Germany's parliament building, the Reichstag, in August. Protesters also breached the building in November, prompting questions about security there.

Cause for reflection at home

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas drew a comparison with the scenes on Wednesday in Washington and the attempts by anti-lockdown demonstrators to enter parliament in Berlin. He also cited deadly far-right terror attacks in the German cities of Halle and Hanau as reasons it would be self-righteous to point the finger at the US without reflecting on matters closer to home.

"Even here, in Hanau, Halle, on the steps of the Reichstag, we have had to experience how agitation and inflammatory words turn into hateful deeds," Maas said.

Maas had also mentioned events at the Reichstag in his initial response to Wednesday night's violence in a tweet that drew a comparison between the two. He said: "Seditious words turn to violent actions — on the steps of the Reichstag, and now in the #Capitol."

Lawmakers from the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, some of whom had marched in increasingly aggressive virus-skeptic demonstrations, have been accused of inviting protesters into the German parliament building who went on to harass other lawmakers.

The AfD on Thursday released a statement denying any links to the protests in front of the Reichstag building last year, and accusing others of seeking to use the latest events in the US to score political points.

"Anyone who equates the unrest in Washington with the demonstrations that took place before the Reichstag building in Berlin, and who points to our party's sympathy for these events, is abusing the anarchist events for political purposes in Germany," party leaders said in a statement.

rc/nm (AFP, epd)