Protesters waved shoes in front of the German president's office Saturday as the opposition issued fresh attacks against him. President Wulff remains under serious pressure over a private loan scandal.
Protesters waved shoes outside the president's palace
Protesters gathered outside the official residence of German President Christian Wulff on Saturday, shouting "Wulff must go!" and waving shoes above their heads in a sign of disrespect common in the Arabic world.
Police said the demonstration, dubbed "Shoe for you, Mr President" - after the insult that gained international recognition three years ago when an Iraqi journalist threw his shoe at then US President George W. Bush - attracted about 450 people outside the Bellevue palace in Berlin.
Wulff has faced growing pressure to step down since December, when it emerged that he failed to declare a private loan when he was state premier of Lower Saxony in 2008. He is reported to have received the loan in the form of a 500,000 euro ($636,000) check.
Protest organizer Holger Werner said Wulff's actions were "an attack on the morals and decency" of society.
Werner hoped the protest would close the gap between Germany's political elite and the rest of the country.
Opposition weighs in
The demonstration coincided with renewed attacks from Social Democratic Party (SPD) leader Sigmar Gabriel.
In an interview with the mass market Bild newspaper, the opposition leader strongly criticized Wulff's conduct.
"It is too bad that the president has let this go on for so long," Gabriel told Bild. "The whole debate is disgraceful and disgusting."
Gabriel accused Wulff of lowering the presidency's standards of honesty and credibility. Cashiers at a supermarket would have been laid off for far lesser offences, Gabriel added, "but the president seems to think that special rules apply to him."
The Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper also reported that Wulff had hidden more details about the home loan than previously thought.
Wulff had failed to notarize the loan's contract and had not provided any evidence of repayments, the leader of the Greens in Lower Saxony, Stefan Wenzel, told the newspaper.
Wenzel said such a practice was "irregular" and "calls for further review."
Germany's governing coalition, made up of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the Christian Social Union (CSU) and the Free Democratic Party (FDP) are reportedly negotiating over who could replace Wulff if he resigns.
But Wulff has refused to go, and has defended his handling of the home loan.
Demonstrators like Detlef Götzen warn the situation may now force them to gather at Bellevue Palace on a weekly basis.
"I don’t think Wulff will go of his own accord," said Götzen. "That's why I'm here."
Author: Zulfikar Abbany, Stuart Tiffen (dpa, AP, dapd)
Editor: Ben Knight
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