German nationalist apologizes for blaming attack on Muslims
BERLIN (AP) — A deputy leader of the nationalist Alternative for Germany party apologized Thursday for falsely blaming a fatal van attack in Muenster on Islamic extremists, saying that she leapt to conclusions too quickly.
Beatrix von Storch said on her Facebook page that “I made a mistake with my tweet about Muenster and I’m sorry.” She added that she should have waited “until the facts were clear.”
“Like millions of Germans I assumed that it was an Islamic attack,” she said.
The apology came after widespread criticism, including from within her own party, of her tweet suggesting Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-door refugee policy was to blame after a man drove into a crowd Saturday.
Two people were killed many more injured.
When authorities revealed the van’s driver to be a German with no known extremist links, von Storch initially doubled down, tweeting that the suspect was an “imitator of Islamist terror.”
The online reaction to the attack prompted German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer earlier this week to call for an end to the “mood of hate” on social media, saying that “society cannot accept that some abused this terrible event for their own perfidious purposes.”
Despite the apology, in her Facebook post von Storch took one more swipe at the chancellor, saying “I don’t ever want to be like Angela Merkel who doesn’t admit her mistakes.”
Party co-leader Alexander Gauland told foreign correspondents Thursday that von Storch had made a mistake with her tweet, but that he accepted her apology.
“For me the matter is resolved,” he said.