Elderly women, priests and firefighters among those arrested, charged or ‘harassed’ by police for supporting migrants, with numbers soaring in the past 18 months.
Five months ago, at 10 o’clock in the morning, German police arrived at the home and parish of Christian Hartung, a pastor in Rhineland-Palatinate. At the same time, they descended on the residences of four other Protestant pastors, seizing some of their cell phones, correspondence with lawyers and church records.
It was an “attempt at intimidation,” Hartung told openDemocracy. The pastors have been under police investigation since 2018, after allowing Sudanese refugees to sleep in church buildings in rural, western Germany. It’s a region where the far-right AfD party is aiming for record votes in this week’s hotly-contested European Parliament elections.