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Germany's Scholz disrupted by protesters at Catholic event

May 31, 2024

"You need to keep your mouth shut now for a bit, then I will even answer your question," German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told "Last Generation" protesters after the group crashed the event he attended in Erfurt.

Olaf Scholz looks up during a climate protest in Erfurt
Scholz said the protesters had no right to use the event as their "private club"Image: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters/pool/dpa/picture alliance

Environmental activists disrupted an event attended by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, shouting over his answers during a Friday panel dedicated to German Catholics in Erfurt.

The "Last Generation" protesters used a bullhorn to chant "Where, where, where is the climate chancellor?" in a dig at Scholz branding himself as an environmentalist before taking office in 2021.

Scholz's attempts to defend his climate record were drowned out by the protesters.

"You need to keep your mouth shut now for a bit, then I will even answer your question," Scholz said, pointing to hundreds of other people in the audience who were not taking part in the protest.

Two people hold up a Last Generation banner while standing at a gallery
The Last Generation protesters built their reputation on high-profile incidents like the one in ErfurtImage: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters/pool/dpa/picture alliance

"You need to listen for a bit, and not shout out your theatrical lines that rehearsed in your agitation group, that's no way to act," he added.

'Lord, give us your peace'

Eventually, the host of the panel paused the event. The protesters were escorted out, and some in the audience sang the hymn "Lord, give us your peace" as a way to express support for Scholz.

The panel was then continued and ended with no further disruptions.

A young man walks between the rows of seats in Erfurt
Protesters were removed from the venue during the breakImage: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters/pool/dpa/picture alliance

The incident in Erfurt, on Germany's Catholics' Day, comes just days after Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock was similarly interrupted in Berlin by protesters opposing Germany's policy regarding Israel's operations in Gaza.

Violence against politicians on the rise

Speaking in Erfurt on Friday, the German chancellor said it was important that people can "speak their opinions anywhere in Germany" and that no one should feel threatened while doing so.

His words follow a series of attacks against local politicians and activists in the runup to the elections for the EU Parliament.

The German chancellor also commented on the war in Ukraine, but did not directly reference the announcement that Ukraine now had permission to use German-supplied weapons against military targets in Russia.

"We need to avoid the big war," Scholz said, referring to a direct confrontation between Russia and NATO.

He also expressed his opposition to banning the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party following growing calls for such a move.

"A ban is a rather difficult issue in a democracy and therefore there exist very high hurdles," he told the audience.

dj/ab (KNA, EPD, dpa)