Europe

Beethoven disrupts anti-migrant rally in Germany

People stage a counter-demonstration against an anti-migrant rally in Mainz. Photo: 21 November 2015 Image copyright EPA
Image caption A counter-demonstration was also staged in Mainz last Saturday

German police are taking legal action against theatre staff in Mainz for disrupting an anti-migrant rally by singing Beethoven's Ode to Joy.

About 300 people gathered over the weekend near the theatre in the south-western city to protest against the government's "chaotic" asylum policy.

But speakers were interrupted by the theatre staff singing "All people will be brothers" from the symphony.

Police say the right to free assembly is guaranteed by the constitution.

They argue that it is therefore a criminal offence to disrupt such events.

Saturday's rally was organised by the country's right-wing Alternative for Germany party.

A counter-demonstration was also staged in the city.

The number of people seeking asylum in Germany this year may be as high as 1.5 million, German media have reported.

The government in Berlin has not confirmed such estimates.

Many of those arriving are refugees fleeing the wars in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, but there are also many economic migrants from the Balkans, Asia and Africa.

A note on terminology: The BBC uses the term migrant to refer to all people on the move who have yet to complete the legal process of claiming asylum. This group includes people fleeing war-torn countries such as Syria, who are likely to be granted refugee status, as well as people who are seeking jobs and better lives, who governments are likely to rule are economic migrants.

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