Germany Pegida protests: Rallies over ‘Islamisation’


There have been weekly protests by the
Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation
of the West (Pegida) since October.
A record 18,000 people turned out on Monday
at one rally in Dresden.
But counter demonstrations have sprung up
and the group has been condemned by senior
German politicians.
Thousands of people are marching in Berlin,
Cologne, Dresden and Stuttgart.
In Berlin, police said that some 5,000 counter-
demonstrators blocked hundreds of Pegida
supporters from marching along their planned
route.
A total of 22,000 anti-Pegida demonstrators
rallied in Stuttgart, Muenster and Hamburg,
according to the DPS news agency.
But in Dresden, police said that 18,000 people
turned up for just one anti-immigration rally.
The counter-demonstration attracted 3,000
people.
In Cologne, the authorities switched off the
lights of the city’s cathedral as a way of
telling Pegida supporters they are supporting
“extremists”.
“We don’t think of it as a protest, but we
would like to make the many conservative
Christians [who support Pegida] think about
what they are doing,” the dean of the
cathedral, Norbert Feldhoff, told the BBC.
Only about 250 Pegida supporters showed up
in Cologne, compared to thousands of
counter-demonstrators.
Much of the city centre was also plunged into
darkness as lights were switched off at major
buildings and bridges across the Rhine,
according to the news agency DPA.
In Dresden, carmaker Volkswagen said it was
also keeping its manufacturing plant dark to
show that the company “stands for an open,
free and democratic society.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel attacked the
movement in her new year speech, saying its
leaders have “prejudice, coldness, even hatred
in their hearts”.
Pegida organiser Kathrin Oertel responded in a
speech at the rally in Dresden. She said that
there was “political repression” in Germany
once again.
“Or how would you see it when we are insulted
or called racists or Nazis openly by all the
political mainstream parties and media for
our justified criticism of Germany’s asylum
seeker policies and the non-existent
immigration policy?”
A poll of just over 1,000 people carried out by
Germany’s Stern magazine found one in eight
Germans would join an anti-Islam march if
Pegida organised one near their home.
Germany receives more refugees and asylum
seekers than any other EU country. Many of
those have come from war-torn Syria.pedigapediga

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