July 4, 2019 / 3:40 PM / 20 days ago

That's not Stuttgart! Germany's AfD red-faced over Israeli brawl mix-up

BERLIN (Reuters) - A German far-right party was accused on Thursday of attempting to fan racial hatred by using a video of a brawl it suggested involved migrants at a water park in the southern city of Stuttgart - when the scuffle took place in Israel.

Alternative for Germany (AfD) posted segments of a video showing youths attacking security guards with plastic chairs on the Twitter account of its parliamentary faction.

In the AfD video, the party’s deputy floor leader, Beatrix von Storch, says: “Stuttgart, 50 hooligans. Police operation against rioting youths, attacks on lifeguards.”

Von Storch was referring to a brawl at a public swimming pool at the weekend in Stuttgart where police arrested three youths who had attacked staff.

But the clips used in the AfD video were from a brawl last month in the coastal Israeli city of Holon, which was widely reported by Israeli media as well as British daily The Mirror.

Some German news web sites and social media users accused the AfD of racism, and some said the AfD was “dumb” to use a video in which the security guards were wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the word security in Hebrew.

The AfD later removed the video from Twitter.

In a new video posted on Twitter, which did not include footage of a brawl, von Storch says: “Our country has changed. Drastically. And that’s because of a number of migrants that is too high.”

The AfD and its supporters say members of the public do not feel safe at swimming pools and water parks because migrants often harass women, get into fights and engage in pickpocketing.

The AfD entered parliament for the first time in the 2017 election, helped by voters angry at Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to welcome almost one million refugees from the Middle East and Africa.

German parties say the AfD’s verbal attacks against mainly Muslim migrants legitimizes a language of hate that encourages far-right sympathizers to resort to violence.

Debate about the risk of far-right violence intensified this summer after the murder of a pro-immigration conservative politician Walter Luebcke. A far-right sympathizer has been charged with his killing.

The AfD denies it harbors racist views and says its members have been victims of attacks by far-left groups.

Additional reporting by Thomas Escritt in Berlin and Jeffrey Heller in Jerusalem; Editing by Janet Lawrence

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