Monday

24th Sep 2018

Merkel criticises anti-Islam Pegida movement

  • Pegida's leaders have "prejudice, coldness, even hatred in their hearts” says Merkel (Photo: consilium.europa.au)

German chancellor Angela Merkel is to use her traditional New Year speech to criticise a new anti-Islam movement in Germany.

In her most strongly-worded reaction to the Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West (Pegida), which earlier this month attracted 17,000 supporters in the eastern city of Dresden, Merkel will urge Germans not to heed calls to join the demonstrations.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

She says Pegida's leaders have “prejudice, coldness, even hatred in their hearts”.

The speech, due to be delivered on Wednesday evening, notes that while Pegida's supporters shout "We are the people" what they mean is "you are not one of us, because of your skin colour or your religion.”

The Pegida movement was only formed in October but the size and nature of its demonstrations has shocked the political establishment in Germany.

Werner Patzelt, a political scientist quoted by German public tv ARD, said the language at the Pegida gathering in Dresden on 15 December, had become much sharper, noting that one of the speeches could be considered incitement to hatred.

Pegida members like to refer to their weekly demonstrations as "strolls" through the city. The group arose from a Facebook group started by Lutz Bachmann, a graphic designer. The first march saw just a few hundred turn up in October but the numbers rose quickly.

Demonstrators hold placards containing messages such as "protect our homeland" or "stop the Islamisation" while the group's leaders have been dimissed as 'pinstripe Nazis'.

Pegida, for its part, says it is not against immigrants or Islam but against extremism. However, the demonstrations have been supported by far-right and Neo-Nazi groups.

As the Pegida numbers have grown, so too have anti-Pegida demonstrations and speeches calling for tolerance and a multicultural society.

The head of the Protestant church in Germany, Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, said while Pegida supporters claim to want to "save" the Christian Western world, the real Christian duty would be to welcome refugees and give them proper housing.

Immigration has become an increasingly political topic in Germany as fighting in Iraq and Syria have prompted a sharp rise in the number of asylum seekers.

Manfred Schmidt, head of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, recently said Germany expects around 230,000 asylum seekers in 2015.

Authorities are expecting 200,000 asylum requests this year, a 60 percent increase compared to 2013.

MEPs commemorate victims of French attacks

Leaders of anti-establishment parties in the European Parliament have criticised the EU's immigration policies in the wake of the terrorist attacks in France, as protesters of the Pegida-movement in Germany took to the streets again.

Opinion

EU should take action on Pegida racism

Germany’s “anti-Islamisation” Pegida movement is a worrying phenomenon, which is quickly taking on a European dimension.

News in Brief

  1. ECB's Draghi set to clarify role in secretive G30 group
  2. Half of EU states at risk of missing recycling target
  3. Commission refers Poland to EU top court over rule of law
  4. Open Society Foundation takes Hungary to court
  5. EU court asked to rule on halting Brexit
  6. EU threatens Switzerland on stock trading
  7. Italy's new basic wage restricted to Italians
  8. UK tycoon offers to create pro-Brexit party

Opinion

Building a Europe more resilient to terrorism

One year to the day since the terror attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils, the commissioner for home affairs spells out what action the EU is taking now to protect against further attacks.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  2. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  5. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  6. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  7. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  8. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  9. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  10. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  11. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow

Latest News

  1. Missing signature gaffe for Azerbaijan gas pipeline
  2. Every major city in Europe is getting warmer
  3. No chance of meeting EU renewable goals if infrastructure neglected
  4. Brexit and MEPs expenses in the spotlight This WEEK
  5. Wake-up call on European Day Against Islamophobia
  6. Sound of discord at 'Sound of Music' Salzburg summit
  7. Salzburg summit presses for bigger Frontex mandate
  8. UK's post-Brexit plan 'will not work', EU says

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us