In an interview with German broadcaster ARD, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere defended the decision by local police to forcibly drag terrified migrants off a bus in the eastern state of Saxony.
“I can’t recognize criticism of this police operation,” de Maiziere said in an interview with the show “Bericht aus Berlin.”
A video of the incident showed authorities in the town of Clausnitz forcing the refugees – including a 14-year-old boy – out of the bus after a crowd of anti-migrant protestors attempted to block its arrival. The town, located near the Czech border, is home to a new refugee hostel.
De Maiziere said the police were right to get all the migrants quickly off the bus and into a nearby shelter. He told ARD that if the bus had been backed away from the refugee shelter, “these bawling people would have had their way.”
German leaders have condemned attacks targeting refugees, such as an apparent arson attack on this planned refugee shelter in Bautzen.
The video drew condemntion from around Germany, though regional police chief Uwe Reissman defended the actions, saying they were “absolutely necessary” in order to assure the migrants’ safety.
De Maiziere echoed the police official’s statement, saying the actions were completely in order. Meanwhile, he lashed out at anti-migrant behavior in parts of the country, calling it “unacceptable.”
Germany has seen a number of such incidents in recent months, as the country comes to grips with a huge influx of refugees entering its borders. On Saturday, a fire was set at a former hotel in Bautzen that had been meant to house refugees.