Merkel’s deputy flips bird at far-right protesters
German Economy Minister and Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel arrives for a television interview in front of the Reichstag building in Berlin, Germany, August 7, 2016. REUTERS photoA top German politician has received applause - and some criticism - after making an unambiguous gesture of distain toward far-right protesters.
A video posted online late Aug. 16 shows German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel flipping the bird at a group of neo-Nazis in the central German town of Salzgitter on Aug. 12, the Associated Press reported.
The clip shows about 10 far-right protesters holding placards accusing Chancellor Angela Merkel’s deputy of being a “race traitor” and praising Gabriel’s late father, a committed Nazi.
“Man, your father loved his country, and what have you done to it? You’re destroying it,” a protester could be heard saying on the video, AFP reported.
At first, the leader of the center-left Social Democratic Party, who has publicly condemned his father as a “die-hard Nazi,” is seen laughing at the demonstrators before raising his middle finger and turning away.
His party has confirmed the authenticity of the video posted on Facebook by a youth group linked to the neo-Nazi NPD.
While some on social media criticized Gabriel for his coarse reaction, many praised the gesture, with one user on Facebook commenting: “I can’t like that often enough.”
Frauke Petry, the leader of populist party AfD, swiftly condemned Gabriel’s gesture, calling him the “unworthy vice chancellor” in a Facebook post.
Gabriel is not the first Social Democrat leader to be seen making the gesture in public.
Former Finance Minister Peer Steinbrück sparked a storm of derision and online ridicule in 2013 by allowing himself to be photographed making the vulgar middle-finger gesture.
Support for the Social Democratic Party has been falling in recent months, partly due to the rise in popularity of the AfD.
The AfD, founded on a eurosceptic platform three years ago, has vocally protested Germany’s record refugee influx that brought more than one million asylum seekers to Europe’s top economy last year alone.