In the latest display of migrant tension, a group of German vigilantes in Saxony scuffled with a mentally ill and seemingly violent immigrant in a store before dragging him out and tying him to a tree with cables, where he remained until police arrived.
The clip features four men who surround a man who looks like a migrant and then forcibly take him out of a supermarket, local media reported. When the police arrived, the activists explained that they had tied him to the tree to prevent him from running away, according to Saechsische Zeitung.
It was later established that the victim was a 21-year-old Iraqi patient from a mental health hospital, Thomas Knaup, a local police spokesman, said.
The detained man had visited the discount retailer Netto in the town of Arnsdorf on several occasions before the incident. He first came to the store on May 20 to buy a sim-card, but, he dropped by again twice the next day because he was unable to activate it. Due to the language barrier, he could not explain what the problem was, and eventually had to be taken away by the police.
The climax came on June 1 when the Iraqi man called in again. This time a shop assistant tested the sim-card, only to find that the balance had been depleted. The customer then allegedly lost his temper and grabbed a bottle of wine.
A check-out woman can be heard on the video asking the man to put the bottle down as a security guard blocks his way. At some point, the guard reached out to take the bottle away, but the asylum-seeker refused to give it up.
The situation escalated when four men turned up and tackled the problem in their own style.
At the end of the clip, the woman shooting the video said, “it’s such a pity that we need a self-defense group.”
The police officers let the four men go without asking for identification, but an investigation was soon launched to determine if they should be charged with unlawful detention. The Iraqi man is also being investigated for presumably threatening people.
One of the men who took part in the attack is allegedly a well-known personality in the town, as well as a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU).
At a council meeting, the move was defended by Town councilor Detlef Oelsner, who said that the four men demonstrated “civil courage” and would have reacted the same way “if he was German,” the German version of The Local news outlet reported.
Thomas Dudzak, a spokesman for the Left Party in Saxony, responded differently, saying that the act “was no form of self-defense” and “was racially motivated.”
Vigilante groups began emerging en masse after massive sexual assaults took place in Cologne last New Year’s Eve. City patrols organized on social media have vowed to protect women and hunt down migrants failing to integrate into German society, though their help has not been welcomed by authorities.
Anti-migrant tension has been on the rise in Europe amid a massive influx of refugees, with most of the migrants recently arriving from the Middle East and North Africa. The German government has adopted an open-door policy, accepting thousands of immigrants and criticizing some of the countries unwilling to do so. However, Berlin has come under fire from some of Germany’s regional leaders, as well as right-wing politicians and groups, who argue that the policy is dangerous and the migrant flow out of control.
A recent poll has shown that Merkel’s popularity has dropped to below 50 percent, largely because of her welcoming stance on refugees, while support for the anti-immigration AfD party has soared.