German police clash with protesters

Joerg Meuthen, candidate in Baden-Wuerttemberg of the anti-immigration party Alternative for Germany (Reuters)
Joerg Meuthen, candidate in Baden-Wuerttemberg of the anti-immigration party Alternative for Germany (Reuters)

By Tina Bellon

German left-wing demonstrators have clashed with police as they tried to break up the first full conference of the anti-immigration party Alternative for Germany where Chancellor Angela Merkel's policies came under attack.

Police counted up to 2000 left-wing protesters, some of whom burned tyres and hurled stones and fireworks to try to stop the AfD's congress going ahead in Stuttgart on Saturday.

Some 500 were detained, police said.

Two policemen were slightly injured, but there were no reports of injured among the protesters, police spokesman Lambert Maute said.

Buoyed by the migrant crisis, which saw the arrival of more than one million migrants in Germany last year, the AfD has upended German party politics.

After the congress started late, more than 2000 AfD members listened to their party leader's call for an end to Merkel's refugee-friendly politics and a return to Christian values.

"We always wondered when the brave child will finally appear to voice the thoughts of the silent majority and declare that the 'Chancellor of no alternatives' is nothing but naked," said party leader Frauke Petry, 40, in her opening speech.

"And I think, this brave child is us," Petry added.

The violence began around dawn and clashes continued for several hours.

Police used pepper spray and threatened to use water cannons to stop protesters, some of whom were masked, from getting onto the grounds of the conference.

Some demonstrators still managed to assault several party members, they said.

The AfD has mainly run on an anti-migrant and Islam-critical agenda, but now struggles to unite its various fractions under one party program that could put it on a broader footing.

Reuters