The former Social Democrats (SPD) leader Martin Schulz verbally attacked Alternative for Germany (AfD) co-leader Alexander Gauland in an impassioned speech, saying he belonged in the “Misthaufen” – the dung heap – of German history, reports German media.
MPs were holding the fiery debate in the Bundestag in the aftermath of far-right protests in eastern Germany. In addition to immigration and far-right violence, the national budget plan was also on the agenda.
The AfD, which is the largest opposition party in the Bundestag, raised concerns over the depiction of the right-wing demonstrators who took part in protests in the eastern German city of Chemnitz, describing most of them as “concerned citizens” rather than as part of extremist mobs.
Gauland said the protestors who gave Hitler salutes, an illegal act in Germany, belong to a minority and that “the real crime was the bloody act committed by two asylum-seekers in Chemnitz”, Deutsche Welle reports.
But his speech prompted an emotional response from Schulz, who stood up to accuse the AfD of adopting “the means of fascism”, pointing to a strategy of reducing complex political problems down to one thing, “in general related to a minority in a country,” he said.
“Migrants are to blame for everything – there have been similar words in this house before,” Schulz said, referring to the time of Nazism.
“It's time for democracy to defend itself against these people,” he added.
His speech was followed by loud applause from several members of government. He was also given a standing ovation by some.
Schulz also referenced Gauland’s previous comments at the beginning of June that the Nazi era was only a “speck of bird shit” in the course of Germany's long history. Schulz said: “Mr Gauland, the amount of bird shit is a dung heap, and there is where you belong in German history.”
Schulz received a standing ovation from his fellow Social Democrats, along with politicians from the Green and Left parties.
Gauland reacted by saying what he said had “nothing to do with fascism”.
“Barricade yourself in the federal chancellery, further from reality,” he added.