Monday

13th Jul 2020

Counter-protests dwarf German anti-Islam rallies

  • Pegida has been growing stronger over the past (Photo: Caruso Pinguin)

A record 18,000 people marched on the streets of Dresden on Monday (5 January) against what they call the Islamisation of Europe, but counter-protests outnumbered them all over Germany.

Launched in October, the so-called Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the West (Pegida) movement has been growing steadily in support over the past few weeks.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Counter-protests want to show that Germany is still a refugee-welcoming country (Photo: Caruso Pinguin)

It organises "evening strolls" every Monday in the former east German town, where the far-right is more present than in other parts of Germany.

Neo-nazi marches are held every year in Dresden, accompanied by counter-marches, on the day commemorating the Allied bombing of the town.

On Monday, counter-demonstrations in support of refugees and a "colourful" Germany were held in Dresden and attracted 3,000 people, but in other major German cities, they outnumbered Pegida supporters.

In Berlin, police estimates that some 5,000 counter-demonstrators blocked hundreds of Pegida supporters from marching along their planned route.

DPS news agency estimates that a total of 22,000 anti-Pegida demonstrators gathered in Stuttgart, Muenster and Hamburg.

In Cologne, lights were switched off at the cathedral, as well as other churches and a museum, as a reminder that not all Christians support Pegida. The Pegida movement in Cologne was outnumbered by 10 to one.

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 in a surprise reference during her New Year speech told "all those who go to such demonstrations: do not follow those who have called the rallies, because all too often they have prejudice, coldness, even hatred in their hearts.”

Former chancellors Helmut Schmidt and Gerhard Schroeder, as well as finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble joined in, condemning the movement as intolerant and xenophobic.

Foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Pegida casts a "bad image for Germany abroad" and said that "those who chant their slogans on some streets are a small minority with a loud voice."

But immigration remains a hot topic in Germany, a country which has seen a surge in asylum requests over the past few years. In 2014, it processed some 200,000 claims, up from 127,000 in 2013.

And the movement has prompted copycat movements in neighbouring countries, with a town in Denmark, Haderslev, organising similar "evening strolls" modelled on Pegida, Ekstra Bladet reports.

Rise in attacks on Muslims in Europe

Violence against Muslims in Europe is on the rise among the handful of member states that officially record such incidents.

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.

MEPs give green light to road transport sector reform

MEPs adopted on Thursday the Mobility Package covering truck drivers' working conditions - rejecting amendments pushed by central and eastern member states. However, the European Commission warned that two new rules might be not align with the Green Deal.

News in Brief

  1. Croatia opens for US tourists, defying EU ban
  2. Poll: only 61% of Germans would get Covid-19 vaccine
  3. UK to spend €788m on new UK-EU border control system
  4. Berlin wants first use of EU cyber sanctions on Russia
  5. Erdogan warns neighbours over hydrocarbon reserves
  6. Bulgaria: political crisis amid anti-corruption protests
  7. Pope and Turkish-German leader join Hagia Sophia protest
  8. France and UK create joint migrant intelligence unit

Opinion

Why so few women in EU missions?

Angela Merkel is only the seventh woman to chair the Council of the European Union's meetings. And in 2020 there is no woman leading any of the current 11 European civilian missions (let alone the six military operations).

Opinion

On toppling statues

The internationally-acclaimed author of King Leopold's Ghost, Adam Hochschild, writes on Belgium's problems with statues, in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  3. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  5. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis

Latest News

  1. Poland's EU-battles to continue as Duda wins tight vote
  2. EU 'in-person' summit plus key data privacy ruling This WEEK
  3. Let's have positive discrimination for EU stagiaires
  4. We need to do more for our small and medium-sized enterprises
  5. Romania's virus surge prompts queues and new worries
  6. Michel lays out compromise budget plan for summit
  7. Border pre-screening centres part of new EU migration pact
  8. EU 'failed to protect bees and pollinators', report finds

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us