Germany remembered nine people killed Feb. 19 by a far-right extremist in the small western German city of Hanau on Wednesday.
Around 600 guests, including President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Chancellor Angela Merkel, family members and community leaders attended the memorial service held at the Congress Park Hanau.
“We are called upon to stand together against hatred and abuse, against terrorism and violence,” Steinmeier told the gathering.
“Yes, there is racism in our country – and it didn’t start just a few weeks ago. Yes, there is widespread Islamophobia,” he said, adding that people with dark skin or wearing a headscarf often face discrimination, insults or violence in their daily life.
He called on all citizens to step up against racism and Islamophobia, and to demonstrate solidarity with people who have migrant backgrounds.
“They all have the right to expect their fellow citizens to empathize, learn, support, contradict, intervene. They all have the right to expect their state, where protective laws are broken by heinous acts, to see, investigate and sentence. They all have a right to a state that protects them,” he said.
A German far-right extremist attacked two cafes and killed nine people with migration backgrounds in Hanau.
Four with Turkish roots died in the racist terror attack, as did one Bosnian, one Bulgarian, one Romanian, and a German-Afghan national.
The gunman killed himself after killing his mother at his home, according to police.
Steinmeier expressed his deep sorrow and sadness over the loss of lives in the racist terrorist attack.
“Our sadness and our anger are interwoven with determination. We stand together. We stick together. Because we want to live together,” he said.
Germany has witnessed growing racism and Islamophobia in recent years, fueled by propaganda of neo-Nazi groups and the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.
A country of over 80 million people, Germany has the second-largest Muslim population in Western Europe after France. Among the country’s nearly 4.7 million Muslims, 3 million are of Turkish origin.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.