Germany’s Sigmar Gabriel defends middle finger gesture

Sigmar Gabriel, surrounded by people, flicking his middle finger in the direction of the cameraImage copyrightEPA
Image captionMr Gabriel made the gesture after being confronted by a group of right-wing protesters

Germany’s economy minister and vice-chancellor has defended flicking the middle finger to a group of right-wing protesters earlier this month.

Sigmar Gabriel, who is Angela Merkel’s second-in-command, said his only mistake was not using both hands.

He said his critics should think about what they would do if faced with 12 “young, aggressive, swearing and ready-for-violence Nazis”.

Mr Gabriel was confronted by the hecklers in northern Germany.

They called him a traitor of the people and mentioned his father’s Nazi past.

Mr Gabriel has spoken openly of his father Walter, who he says was a supporter of Hitler’s Nazi party and denied the Holocaust until his death in 2012.

In a video released on social media of the incident, one of the protesters can be heard shouting: “Your father loved his country. And what are you doing? You’re ruining it.”

At the time, his political party the Social Democratic Party (SPD) called it an “emotional reaction” and released a statement saying: “Obviously Sigmar Gabriel does not regard that gesture to be an appropriate form of everyday communication, but communication was not possible with bellowing neo-Nazis who were clearly prepared to use violence.”