German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday called the actions of protesters who shouted abuse at a bus full of migrants “repulsive” and “unjustifiable.”
Video of about 100 people trying to block migrants from entering a shelter in the eastern village of Clausnitz on February 18 prompted concern about growing extremism in Germany. The number of far-right attacks on migrants has increased significantly over the past year, as more than a million people came to Germany seeking asylum.
Merkel told public television ARD late Sunday that she sees a “polarization” in Germany society, but insisted that her decision in September to keep the country’s borders open to migrants had been right.
“I think we’re doing better than some people think, but we’ve got a way to go,” she said.
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To those who have opposed her course, at time vehemently, Merkel said she was willing to listen. “They aren’t convinced yet but I think that I can convince them if the issue is resolved, but we need a certain amount of time for this.”
Merkel said her government is working to solve the problems causing people to flee to Europe, but added that those coming to Germany have to abide by its laws, citing what she called the “devastating” incident in Cologne at New Year, when scores of women were robbed and sexually assaulted by men of mostly North African origin.
“Rules must be clear from the start,” she said. “Integration isn’t just a voluntary matter.”
Merkel’s center-right party faces its first electoral test since the migrants surge on March 13, when voters elect new regional parliaments in three of Germany’s 16 states.