Around 25,000 protest immigration stance of Merkel’s Bavarian allies

By Wire News Sources on July 22, 2018

MUNICH (Reuters) – Around 25,000 people braved the rain in Munich on Sunday to protest the hardline immigration stance of Chancellor Angela Merkelā€™s Bavarian allies three months before they face a tough state election in Bavaria.

March organizers said in a statement they were demonstrating against the ā€œirresponsible divisive politicsā€ of top members of the CSU which governs Bavaria and is the sister party to Merkelā€™s Christian Democrats (CDU).

They mentioned CSU leader and interior minister Horst Seehofer and CSU Bavarian state premier Markus Soeder and said they were taking a stand against a ā€œpolitics of fearā€ and a societal shift to the right.

Seehoferā€™s immigration stance nearly brought down Merkelā€™s government earlier this month in a dispute over migration.

By staking out a hard line, Seehofer is trying to bolster his party in the vote, in which the CSU faces a stiff challenge from the far-right.

Seehofer last week deflected blame for the suicide of an Afghan man among a group deported to Kabul, after opponents called for his resignation for boasting that the deportations took place on his birthday.

ā€œI want to speak out against the inhuman statements that have recently come to light from leading CSU politicians,ā€ said Axel Weingaertner, one of the demonstrators. ā€œItā€™s unacceptable.ā€

Numerous groups, including the Social Democrats (SPD) – junior partner to the conservatives in the federal governing coalition – the Greens, the radical Left, civil society organizations, church groups and groups of volunteers who work with refugees, had urged people to join the demonstration.

Police estimated the number who took part.

The CSU said on Twitter the protest was ā€œpolitical agitationā€ and added: ā€œThe people in Bavaria know what they have in the CSU.ā€

The Infratest dimap poll showed support for the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) in the prosperous southern state at 12 percent. The AfD, which has seen its popularity soar due an influx of 1.6 million migrants since mid-2014 – is expected to enter the state parliament there for the first time in October.

Reporting for Reuters: Michelle Martin

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