Where is 'No-Go'? Indians Express Concern about Visiting Germany
The attacks on eight Indians in eastern Germany 10 days ago shocked many back home. Now the German embassy in New Dehli is being inundated with calls from prospective visitors to Germany who want to know what risks they face.
Mügeln was the scene of an attack on eight Indians on Aug. 19. Now their compatriots want to know where else to avoid in Germany.
Their anxiety follows events in Mügeln, a town in the Eastern German state of Saxony, on Aug. 19, when eight Indians were chased and attacked by a mob of over 50 people shouting "Foreigners Out!" during a street party. The eight men eventually found refuge in a pizzeria, but the crowd broke inside and began beating them. It took 70 police to disperse the crowds.
In the aftermath of these ugly scenes the Indian government expressed its alarm to the Berlin government. "We have requested that the German authorities take action to address this issue and prevent future incidents of the kind," Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna said in a statement last week.
Volker Kauder, the parliamentary leader of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats, is currently in New Dehli for talks with the Indian government and he admitted that the events in Mügeln were viewed with much concern there. Speaking to the Rheinsiche Post newspaper he said: "Our embassy has received many inquires about where the so-called 'No-Go' areas for foreign visitors are in Germany." Kauder pointed out that Indians are, however, making an effort not to play up the incident: "The Indians recognize that these events in Mügeln are not the rule in Germany." Kauder added that Chancellor Merkel's clear condemnation of the attacks had done a lot to calm the situation.
According to Saxony's state prosecutor, 82 witnesses have so far been interviewed in connection with the Mügeln attack and the police confirmed on Tuesday that they are investigating seven suspects. The state police chief Bernd Merbitz told the Associated Press that the actions had not been committed by a particular extreme-right group. Nonetheless, he said, the chanting of slogans such as "Foreigners Out!" and "Germany for Germans" constituted a xenophobic criminal offence.
The incident has prompted some politicians, including the leader of the Social Democrats Kurt Beck, to call for the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD) to be banned. A 2003 bid to do exactly that failed due to strict legal obstacles to banning political parties in Germany. Since then the NPD has managed to enter two state parliaments in eastern Germany: Saxony in 2004, with 9.2 percent of the vote, and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania in 2006 with 7.3 percent.