Two police officers hospitalised in violent clash with protesters at far-right AfD congress in Germany

Two police officers hospitalised in violent clash with protesters at far-right AfD congress in Germany

Two police officers have been hospitalised in Germany after clashes with protesters outside the congress of Germany’s far-right AfD party.

Nearly 1,000 police officers were deployed in Essen city as thousands of protesters tried to block roads to prevent the AfD event, which was attended by about 600 delegates on Saturday.

Police said two officers were seriously injured when protesters kicked them in the head after they fell while attempting to escort a politician.

A further seven officers were also injured in the demonstrations, Reuters reported.

“Several disruptive violent actions occurred in the Rüttenscheid quarter. Demonstrators, some of them hooded, attacked security forces. Several arrests were made,” police in Essen’s North Rhine-Westphalia area said in a post on X.

Thousands of people participated on Saturday in an anti-AfD gathering called “Bass against Hatred”.

At the gathering, a group of demonstrators who attempted to breach a barrier were pushed back by police using pepper spray and batons.

Some masked demonstrators also attacked officers, according to police, who reported that “several” arrests were made.

The AfD party said it too had the right to hold a congress like other political outfits. The party reported a surge in membership, growing by 60 per cent since January 2023, as it vowed to build on its success in the European Parliament election.

One of its proposed policies involves a plan to deport millions of people, which has sparked concerns among Germans who believed their country had moved past the horrors of its Nazi racial superiority past.

There are growing counter-demonstrations against the party after it had its best EU election result since its creation in 2013, winning 16 per cent of the vote. This figure is still only a small fraction of the number of members in Germany’s “big tent” parties, but the AfD targets winning three state votes in the country’s east this year.

Meanwhile, about 20,000 people participated in the latest demonstrations against AfD.

“Melt the AfD snowball before it becomes an avalanche,” one protester’s sign read.

AfD co-chief Alice Weidel said the party will be very careful when they put forward leading candidates in the future. “We will not be intimidated. We are here and we are here to stay,” she said, according to Reuters.