German left-wing demonstrators clash with police and supporters of the the right-wing AfD party as party members gather for their congress near the south-western city of Stuttgart. Mana Rabiee reports.
The clashes near Stuttgart lasted for hours. Left-wing demonstrators scuffled with German police and supporters of the right-wing anti-immigration party, AfD, who had gathered for their annual party congress. Police used pepper spray and water cannons to disperse the crowds. 400 protesters were detained after temporarily blocking roads to the convention, burning tires and forming human chains. Several party members were assaulted Dominik Schmeiser is spokesman for the protest group against AfD. (SOUNDBITE) (German) SPOKESMAN FOR PROTEST GROUP AGAINST AFD, DOMINIK SCHMEISER, SAYING: "We are united by our conviction that we cannot let the AFD go unchallenged, and that it is a party which is not only racist, but which is engaged in the politics of exclusion and social division." Inside the convention, the AfD's anti-immigration policies and its critical stance on Islam were in focus. The party -- its full name is Alternative for Germany -- has surged in recent months .... fueled by growing social tensions after a record influx of migrants to Germany. The party's first manifesto was expected to read 'Islam does not belong in Germany". Deputy Leader Alexander Gauland said their policy statement must now be fleshed out in election campaigns and demonstrations. (SOUNDBITE) (German) AFD DEPUTY LEADER, ALEXANDER GAULAND, SAYING: "That is our task today: defining a framework for this Alternative for Germany, which has arrived in society and which is here to stay, whether the consensus parties like it or not." Some 1,000 police have been deployed and more protests were expected during the two-day conference.