Merkel slams anti-asylum seeker activists

People demonstrate against the visit of German Chancellor Angela Merkel to a refugee shelter that was attacked by far-right protesters over the weekend in Heidenau, eastern Germany, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015. Poster reads : Race Traitor. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer)

By Coralie Febvre and Csaba Ranks ,AP

HEIDENAU, Germany/ROESZKE, Hungary — German Chancellor Angela Merkel vowed Wednesday there would be no tolerance for “shameful and vile” anti-migrant violence, facing down a noisy far-right protest during a visit to a refugee center. About 200 people massed in the eastern town of Heidenau, some booing and shouting “traitor, traitor” and “we are the mob” as she arrived at the shelter, in a show of defiance over a record influx of asylum seekers. But following her visit, Merkel vowed: “There will be no tolerance of those who question the dignity of other people.” “The more people who make that clear … the stronger we will be and the better we will be able to address this task” of caring for refugees. The showdown in Germany came as chaotic scenes erupted at Hungary’s border town of Roszke with police firing tear gas at migrants. Police had sought to stop around 200 people trying to leave the country’s main refugee processing center there. Budapest said it would send in police reinforcements to stem a record influx of asylum-seekers, as more than 2,500 people crossed into the EU country from its southern frontier with Serbia, days before a vast razor-wire barrier aimed at keeping out migrants is completed. Europe is struggling to cope with its biggest migrant crisis since World War II — from thousands of refugees landing on the shores of Italy and Greece to the hundreds climbing onto trucks to get from France to the UK. Hamstrung by a lack of a coherent European response to the crisis, governments have undertaken at times contradictory approaches to the issue.

Hungary is building a wall to keep migrants out, while the Czech Republic’s Deputy Prime Minister Andrej Babis called for the visa-free Schengen zone be closed with NATO deployment. Germany, which is preparing to receive a record 800,000 asylum-seekers this year, instead eased the asylum application procedure for Syrians fleeing a brutal civil war. Natasha Bertaud, spokeswoman for the EU Commission, said Berlin’s move was “recognition of the fact that we cannot leave the member states at the external borders alone in dealing with a large number of asylum seekers.” Under the so-called Dublin rules, the first EU country where an asylum seeker arrives is usually required to process the claimant’s application. In practice, this means countries on the EU’s southern borders like Greece or Italy are overwhelmed with applications. But Berlin’s largesse was not always welcomed at home, particularly in the east where a spate of attacks has hit refugee centers. President Joachim Gauck blasted a “dark Germany” behind the series of xenophobic attacks, as German leaders went on the offensive to quell the wave of anti-migrant violence.