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German protester gets suspended sentence over Hitler salute

Protesters wave German flags during a march held by the anti-immigrant group "Pro Chemnitz" in the eastern city on Friday People hold national flags during a march organised by the right-wing populist "Pro Chemnitz" movement, on September 7, 2018 in Chem
John MACDOUGALL (AFP)
Local right-wing movement has already announced that the next protest will take place on Friday, September 14

A 33-year-old German man was on Thursday handed a suspended sentence of eight months by a court in the eastern city of Chemnitz for making the illegal Hitler salute during far-right protests.

The Chemnitz local, who was not named, was also fined 2,000 euros ($2,300) over his action on September 1.

The penalty was more lenient than the one-year prison sentence sought by prosecutors, who are examining whether to lodge an appeal.

Thousands of demonstrators had answered a call by the far-right party AfD and the Islamophobic PEGIDA street movement to march over the fatal stabbing of a man, allegedly by asylum seekers, in late August.

During the heated rallies, a handful of people were seen publicly making the illegal salute, while others were shouting anti-foreigner slurs.

A 34-year-old man is due in court on Friday over a similar charge.

Police forces found themselves overwhelmed this past week by the amount of demonstrators in Chemnitz, the third largest city in the Eastern state of Saxony,  and were severely criticized for allowing a far-right mob to run amok.

The death of 35-year-old Daniel Hillig during a fight outside a street festival two weeks ago sparked violent protests against German authorities’ failure to counter alleged migrant violence. Two suspects were arrested, a Syrian and an Iraqi, and police is searching for a third person suspected of being involved in the brawl.

In the first days on the protests in Chemnitz, far-right demonstrators clashed with counter-protesters and reportedly “hunted down” and harassed people of foreign appearance. Youths from Syria and Afghanistan reported being attacked in separate incidents and a 30-year-old Bulgarian was threatened.

Police also recorded some dozen people performing the illegal Nazi salute, and are currently investigating an attack on a Jewish restaurant in the city, during which bottles, rocks and a steel pipe were hurled at the front window, injuring its owner.

The local right-wing movement Pro Chemnitz, which organized already four demonstrations, has already announced that the next protest will take place on Friday, September 14. “Whether it is Chemnitz, Kandel or Köthen, again and again it is Merkel’s guests that are killing Germans!” wrote the group on its Facebook page.

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