MUNICH – Riot police were kept on the move on Saturday in the southern German city of Munich as they flanked more than 6,000 people who had turned out to protest against a rally by some 250 neo-Nazis.
Passions ran high as the protesters chanted “Nazis Out!”, blew whistles and hurled bottles and stones across the heads of a cordon of riot police in the direction of the right-wing extremists.
Riot police detained 53 persons briefly, among them bottle throwers and a prominent German neo-Nazi who was one of the rally organizers. Police said he had been booked for carrying an offensive weapon, a can of pepper spray, but was later allowed to go free.
The two demonstrations began several blocks apart from one another.
Addressing the anti-Nazi crowd in the central square of the Bavarian capital, Munich mayor Christian Ude, said: “I’m telling the neo-Nazis: We don’t want you on this square”.
A senior Catholic clergyman, vicar Engelbert Dirnberger, told the anti-Nazi crowd that the legacy of the dying Pope John Paul II was that people had to stand their ground against the extremists.
A force of 1,300 riot police cut off counter-demonstrators when they surged through streets in the direction of the neo-Nazis.
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