GERMANY: The German government has said it was sending police reinforcements to the eastern state of Saxony, following violent anti-migrant protests which prompted a ban on rallies in the flashpoint town of Heidenau.
Heidenau, a town of around 16,000 inhabitants near Dresden yesterday, has become the focus of Germany's struggle to absorb a vast wave of asylum seekers that is expected to reach a record 800,000 this year.
"Saxony sought the help of federal police and this support will be provided," interior ministry spokesman Johannes Dimroth said, without saying how many officers would be deployed.
Last weekend, police and far right demonstrators clashed outside a refugee centre in Heidenau. On a visit to the town this week Chancellor Angela Merkel was booed by protesters.
The incidents prompted local authorities to outlaw all outdoor public gatherings from Friday afternoon until Monday morning, claiming they could not ensure public safety.
An administrative court in Dresden on Friday declared the ban "clearly illegal", saying police forces from around the country could be sent as backup.
"In addition, the police have the resources, including water cannon, to prevent any disproportionate damage," the court said. But a few hours later Saxony's administrative court of appeal reinstated the prohibition, banning all gatherings over the weekend, including those in support of refugees.
Chancellor Angela Merkel herself pledged to do "everything possible to provide support to the Saxony police" at a news conference with Danish Prime Minister Lars Rasmussen.
Merkel has condemned the anti-migrant protests as "vile" and travelled to Heidenau on Wednesday in a show of support for refugees and volunteers at the shelter.
But as she arrived at the centre, some 200 people jeered and booed her, shouting far-right slogans, including "Traitor, traitor!" and "We are the mob".