BERLIN, Sept. 12 (Xinhua) -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) has condemned violent and racist incidents witnessed during recent demonstrations in East Germany in a closely watched speech in the German federal parliament on Wednesday.
"There is no excuse or justification for inciting hatred, resorting to violence, chanting Nazi slogans, hostility towards people who look different or own a Jewish restaurant and attacks against police officers", Merkel said. She hereby referred to far-right marches in the German towns Chemnitz and Koethen after two alleged cases of murders of Germans by asylum seekers.
Chancellor Merkel's comments were addressed to delegates during a traditional general debate at the federal parliament (Bundestag) which takes places following the presentation of the government's draft budget for the coming year.
Merkel emphasized that she understood the outrage of citizens over the "severe crimes" in which the alleged suspect were asylum seekers and vowed that her government would work to respond to "grievances" in this context.
At the same time, however, Merkel told delegates that she would not allow the "silent spread of discrimination against entire groups in our society" as a response. "Jews and Muslims are as much a part of our society as Christians and Atheists", she added.
Merkel drew attention to the first article of the German constitution which states that "human dignity is inviolable." Whoever acted in breach of this article stood in opposition to Germany's founding principles and the rule of law which was based upon them. "Rules cannot be replaced with emotions. This is the nature of the rule of law", the chancellor argued.
Merkel's plenary session was after an opening speech by Alternative for Germany (AfD) co-leader Alexander Gauland in which he attacked Merkel for being "stubborn" and "bossy" on the subject of immigration and Chemnitz.
Gauland admitted that there had been "a few aggressive idiots" amongst the protestors in Chemnitz who had chanted "distasteful" slogans like "Kick foreigners out" or made use of the Nazi-era Hitler salute. Nevertheless, the AfD leader defended what he described as the "spontaneous use" of citizens' right to assemble freely.