Freital, Saxony has become the centre of a new wave of German anti-immigration protests after the opening of a new asylum ‘central camp’ took locals by surprise.
Up to 1,200 Germans are meeting and marching every week-day evening in just one town – the centre of a network of other marches and a clear spin-off the of the PEGIDA movement in nearby Dresden. The campaign group ‘Freital Defends Itself’ is opposed to the opening of a ‘hotel home’ for migrants in the town, opened without warning and without discussion by the national government earlier this year.
Bus-loads of male refugees arriving in sleepy Freital, a small Saxon town of less than 40,000 was the first locals heard of government plans to create the second largest asylum centre in the state in a hotel in the centre of town – even the mayor only got two hours warning. Despite the reporting of the marches in the English speaking media which has portrayed the protesters as neo-Nazis and racist hooligans, much of the controversy is over the covert tactics the Saxony government has used to set it up, and marches have been peaceful.
Despite that, police have declared a state of emergency in Frietal that has now been in place for several days. The powers, which have also been used to control the PEGIDA movement before, allow the police to vet and control all movements in and out of the town, and to place an exclusion area around the refuge centre, making it a crime to attempt approaching it without permission. It is a position some Germans support – a Change.org petition presently being promoted by the German Huffington Post calls on followers to recognise that “the right of assembly has limits”, and for the government to outlaw all anti-migrant marches forever.
A source in Dresden, the capital of Saxony and only a couple of miles from Freital’ told Breitbart London that many locals are angry at the owner of the hotel Leonardo, who bought the site only hours before it was announced to become a refugee centre by the Federal Office for Migration, suggesting a certain degree of inside knowledge. Locals are angry that the new owner of the Leonardo, once a small business but now the home to hundreds of refugees is raking in big money from the government, while the town itself had no say or warning about the impending change.
After the hotel became an asylum centre, the state regional office announced it would be upgraded to a ‘erstaufnahmeeinrichtung’ – central camp, where migrants could be processed, receive medical checks, before being moved on to other towns and cities. This again was a change that came with only three days notice, and an increase of hundreds of more asylum seekers.
After surprising locals with the refugee centre, the regional government has attempted to patch up relations with the people of Freital, hosting an open meeting with the Saxonian interior minister for residents to calm fears. The meeting was closed after government officials were unable to convince locals of the merits of the hotel.
Because of the protests, police now guard the former hotel 24 hours a day – but the greatest threat to the patrolling officers aren’t the citizens of Freital, but rather the migrants inside. In extraordinary scenes on Sunday evening, police had to abandon the hotel as medical staff reported a suspected case of Ebola and moved in to investigate.
It is perhaps unsurprising that the German government is now trying to open asylum centres while giving locals the minimum possible notice, given the nasty habit buildings earmarked for the use have of burning down before any refugees arrive to populate them. Though the tactic has worked in some areas, it has backfired in others. Breitbart London reported in April that after arsonists burnt down one building in the process of being converted for asylum use, the mayor told locals the migrants would still come – and they would have to billet them in their own houses instead.
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