A tense truce within German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative camp imploded yesterday after her hardline interior minister defended protests marred by neo-Nazi violence and blasted immigration as "the mother of all political problems".
The latest shots across Merkel's bow came just two months after the minister, Horst Seehofer, threatened to torpedo her ruling coalition over the border issue.
An uneasy calm that had taken hold during the summer holidays shattered in the aftermath of a fatal knife attack against a 35-year-old German man in the eastern city of Chemnitz in late August. Three asylum seekers -- two Iraqis and a Syrian -- are suspects in the killing.
Far-right groups and thousands of local citizens took to the streets in the days after the stabbing, with a number of participants attacking people who looked foreign, and showing the illegal Nazi salute.
As Germany's top law enforcer, Seehofer had faced calls to condemn the ugly scenes of marauding mobs that also assaulted reporters and police.
He reserved judgement until yesterday's incendiary interview, in which he said he wished he could have joined the demonstrations.
"The migration issue is the mother of all political problems in this country. I've been saying that for three years," since Merkel opened Germany's borders to more than one million asylum seekers as other EU countries shut the door to them.
Merkel has repeatedly expressed shock about the distressing scenes in the city -- which were captured on video and described to the media by several victims.