Germany’s Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel caused a stir when he gave the middle finger to a group of far-right protesters heckling him in the northern town of Salzgitter earlier in the month – but he’s not sorry.
The incident occurred when Gabriel was accosted by a dozen neo-Nazis who began harassing him with verbal abuse, calling him a traitor and praising his father, who was a Nazi supporter. In response, the Vice Chancellor unambiguously raised his middle finger at the group.
When interviewed later on German television, Gabriel, who is Chancellor Angela Merkel’s second-in-command, said he had a single regret: not going further.
“I made only one mistake, I have not used both hands,” he said.
He asked critics what they would do if confronted with a group of “young, aggressive, swearing and ready-for-violence Nazis.”
His party, the Social Democrats, supported him, releasing a statement saying that normal communication was “not possible with bellowing neo-Nazis” prepared to use violence.
The far-right protesters told Gabriel that he was betraying the memory of his Nazi father, who “loved his country”, and accused the statesman of destroying Germany.
Gabriel has spoken openly about his father’s Nazi past, publicly condemning Walter Gabriel as a “die-hard Nazi” who supported the fascist party and denied the Holocaust until his death in 2012.