A Christmas speech by a local politician from Germany’s conservative CDU party has led to outrage and disbelief.
Udo Witschas, the district administrator from Bautzen in the German state of Saxony, said in the speech that he did not want to "bleed school or recreational sports for this asylum policy," referring to how migrants and asylum seekers are often housed in gymnasiums.
In his Christmas message, which Witschas published as a Facebook video on Tuesday, he added that Bautzen does not want "people who come to us, who do not know our culture, who do not know our regulations, to now house them here in apartment buildings and free-standing apartments and to accept the endangerment of social peace for this."
His remarks caused varying reactions in the CDU, Germany’s strongest opposition party, now at about 28% in nationwide polls. Saxony's Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer of the CDU defended Witschas.
He said Witschas’ remarks had been taken out of context, creating a false impression. "The people who are now coming to us will be decently accommodated and also cared for according to the best standards here. That is no question at all," Kretschmer said on Wednesday.
But there was also criticism for Witschas from his own party. Mario Czaja, the CDU’s secretary general, stressed that the federal CDU dissociates itself from Witschas’ choice of words.
Saying he was speaking on behalf of CDU leader Friedrich Merz, he added: "People seeking protection in our country deserve our help, our care, and are treated with respect and decency. We are democrats and Christians and stand by our responsibility.”
Witschas defended his speech. On Facebook, he said the speech had been shortened, adding that he had only wanted to respond to the concerns of sports clubs and tenants.
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