A fire—the result of suspected arson—tore through a former hotel in eastern Germany on Sunday, causing possibly irreparable damage, the Associated Press reports. Police said onlookers cheered as the building, which was in the midst of being converted to a home for refugees, burned.
No one was injured, police in Bautzen said, but three people were ordered to leave the scene after they impeded firefighters’ getting to the burning building. Two people, described as drunk 20-year-olds, were detained. Others were “commenting with derogatory remarks or unashamed joy” as they stood and watched the fire.
Germany saw an increase in attacks against refugee housing last year. From the AP:
Saxony is home to the anti-Islam and anti-immigration group PEGIDA, and incidents there have caused concern before. In August, a mob in Heidenau, outside Dresden, hurled bottles and fireworks at police protecting a shelter being set up for refugees.
The Bautzen fire came after a mob in the small town of Clausnitz, also in Saxony, on Thursday screamed “We are the people!” and “Go home!” as they blocked a bus carrying asylum-seekers outside a new refugee home.
Police drew criticism in that case for roughly hauling some migrants off the bus into the building — which they insist was necessary to prevent the situation from escalating — and for saying that some of the migrants had made provocative gestures.
Saxony Governor Stanislaw Tillich called the two incidents “appalling and shocking” and described the perpetrators as “criminals.”
According to the BBC, police in Brandenburg, to the north of Saxony, are investigating the distribution of leaflets advocating for “absolute resistance” against the “foreigner invasion.” More than a million people applied for asylum in Germany last year.
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