Anti-migrant voices growing in Europe

BEIJING. – Europe is seeing an increasing number of refugees arriving in the continent despite harsh winter conditions, which has triggered growing anti-migrant sentiment in the EU and mounting pressure on politicians over immigration policies.

In Sweden, two arrests have been made after dozens of masked men believed to belong to neo-Nazi gangs gathered on Friday night in Stockholm and handed out leaflets calling for attacks against young migrants, police said on Saturday.

Police had beefed up their presence in the city centre, deploying anti-riot and helicopter units after learning that extremists were planning “aggression on unaccompanied migrant minors” in the city late on Friday. The Swedish government announced earlier this week that it plans to deport up to 80 000 asylum seekers over the next few years.

In Britain’s Dover, a town in Kent county, southeast England, clashes took place on Saturday between anti-immigration and anti-racism groups, with media reports of smoke bombs and bricks being thrown.

Kent police said one person suffered a broken arm and five people sustained minor injuries during the demonstrations in the port town, which faces France across the strait of Dover, the narrowest part of the English Channel.

In southwest Germany, some 80 far-right demonstrators and 150 “anti-fascist initiative and citizen movement members as well as refugees themselves” showed up on Saturday in the Black Forest town of Villingen-Schwenningen, police said.

The demonstration took place after a hand grenade was thrown early on Friday morning into a refugee shelter in the town, where about 20 refugees were sleeping. The device did not explode and no damage or injuries were reported.

German Justice Minister Heiko Maas said the attack represented a new level of “hate and violence” that must be addressed by local and federal authorities. Germany, which received roughly 1,1 million asylum seekers in 2015, is seeing rising violence against them, especially after the sexual assaults on New Year’s Eve in Cologne that were blamed largely on foreigners.

More than 1 000 attacks against refugee shelters occurred in Germany last year, nearly five times the amount of similar incidents in 2014, with more than 900 attacks relating to right-wing extremism, according to the data released by the Federal Criminal Police Office on Thursday. Frauke Petry, head of the anti-migrant Alternative for Germany party, told local media on Saturday that border security officials should use their guns “as a last resort” to prevent illegal immigration. – Xinhua.

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