german police policija njemačka.jpg
Photograph: EPA/SVEN HOPPE

German politicians have demanded an action plan from Chancellor Angela Merkel on how to respond to two right-wing protests in east Germany that saw angry mobs cheering at a blazing refugee accommodation and harassing refugees emerging from a bus last week.

"The chancellor will have to give a statement next week on how the government plans to stop the racist mob [and] protect refugees," Dietmar Bartsch, head of the opposition Left Party, told Tagesspiegel newspaper Monday. Green Party chief Cem Ozdemir demanded the same.

Justice Minister Heiko Maas said authorities would have to "pool their powers" to bring to justice arsonists who set fire to a planned refugee home in Bautzen, the right-wing protesters that cheered the action, and a mob that harassed refugees in nearby Clausnitz.

Saxony's Interior Minister Markus Ulbig promised a speedy investigation into both incidents - which occurred early Sunday and Thursday - but defended the police's handling of the situation in Clausnitz.

Police drew criticism for roughly hauling some of the visibly distressed asylum seekers off the bus while protesters were harassing them with shouts of "We are the people" and "Go home," and for saying refugees had made obscene gestures from inside the bus.

Saxony has a history of right-wing protests against refugees. Home to the anti-Islam movement Pegida, the east German state in August became the scene of a protest in Heidenau that saw men hurling bottles and explosives at police guarding a refugee home.

"The Saxon police has been downplaying the right-wing threat for years," Simone Peter, co-chair of the Green Party, told regional newspaper Passauer Neue Presse on Monday.

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