Thousands demonstrate against Alternative for Germany party congress
5 December 2017
Thousands of mainly young people protested over the weekend in Hanover, Germany against the right-wing extremist Alternative for Germany (AfD) as it held its first party congress since gaining seats in parliament in September’s federal election. While police estimated the number of demonstrators at 6,500, organisers put the crowd at over 10,000.
The police secured the meeting place for the party congress with a major deployment of forces. Armed cops in full combat gear, at least eight water canons and armoured vehicles—“special operations vehicles” as the police refer to them—protected the Hanoveraner Congress Centre and lined the demonstration route.
Protesters sought to block access roads to the congress centre on Saturday morning. Police responded to the sit-down blockades with baton charges and pepper spray, and by deploying water cannon in freezing temperatures. According to media reports, a demonstrator suffered a broken leg and had to be operated on in hospital. Officers arrested four people and took six into custody.
The blockades caused problems on Saturday morning for the AfD delegates seeking to gain access to the congress centre, which was surrounded by barbed wire. This resulted in the start of the congress being delayed.
The protests were called by a broad coalition of churches, trade unions, campaign groups and political parties under the slogan “Our Hanover: diverse and in solidarity! Protest against right-wing extremism and right-wing populism!” On Saturday afternoon, a protest march proceeded from the location of the AfD’s congress to the centre of Hanover, the state capital of Lower Saxony. The…