A volunteer fireman in Germany has been criticised for refusing to take part in any firefighting at accommodation used by refugees.
The controversy comes as newly released figures show attacks on asylum-seekers in Germany have more than tripled this year.
The fireman, who has been named only as Jürgen S under German privacy laws, sent an official request to the local authorities in the town of Frankenberg in Saxony, to be released from his duties if a fire broke out at a refugee shelter.
The 34-year-old claimed firefighters’ personal safety could not be guaranteed in buildings used by asylum-seekers. The fire service immediately distanced itself from the claims.
“The request is the private opinion of a single volunteer. What is annoying is that he relates his desire for ‘self-protection’ to the entire volunteer Frankenberg fire service,” Harry Wrobel, the fire chief, told Welt newspaper.
Jürgen S has since withdrawn the request after a storm of negative publicity, and is reportedly travelling in the US.
The state of Saxony, in eastern Germany, has been the focus of anti-refugee protests as the country struggles to cope with a huge influx of asylum-seekers.
Frankenberg, a town of some 14,000 inhabitants, is home to two government refugee shelters but so far has escaped the tensions that have been seen elsewhere.
There have been 637 attacks on asylum-seekers in Germany so far this year, more than triple the 199 in the whole of 2014, according to new figures released by the police.
The majority of attacks have been damage to property, xenophobic graffiti and hate speech. But there have also been physical attacks on asylum-seekers and cases of arson in occupied buildings.
At the weekend a group of 30 masked men armed with baseball bats attacked three asylum-seekers in the eastern city of Magdeburg. Two of the victims, both Syrian, needed hospital treatment.
In a separate incident in the western town of Sehnde in the early house of Sunday morning, a Molotov cocktail was thrown at a half-timbered house where a family of three asylum-seekers was staying.
Passers-by were able to put out the fire. An unnamed 43-year-old suspect has been arrested on suspicion of arson.
Officially, Germany expects to host 800,000 asylum-seekers this year butAngela Merkel reportedly told fellow government leaders at the weekend that the number will be closer to one million.
More than 4,000 arrived over the Austrian border on Wednesday alone, and a further 2,200 were waiting to cross on Thursday morning, according to reports.
The Roman Catholic Bishop of Essen caused controversy after he compared new transit zones being planned by Mrs Merkel’s government to concentration camps.
The government wants to hold asylum-seekers inside transit zones on the border until their applications are decided.
Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck said the lives of asylum-seekers held in the transit zones would be “like that in a concentration camp”.
He later apologised after a storm of protest from politicians, and said the analogy had been inappropriate.
Mrs Merkel’s government has agreed to set up the transit zones, but they still face significant opposition from her main coalition partner, the Social Democrats.