Friday

17th Nov 2017

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.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • 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.

Opinion

Mind the gap: inequality in our cities

Minimum wages, 'living' wages and a universal basic income are all part of the ongoing mix to find ways to reduce social inequality across the EU.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressAntisemitism in Europe Today: Is It Still a Threat to Free and Open Society?
  2. Counter BalanceNew Report: Juncker Plan Backs Billions in Fossil Fuels and Carbon-Heavy Infrastructure
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic countries prioritise fossil fuel subsidy reform
  4. Mission of China to the EUNew era for China brings new opportunities to all
  5. ACCASmall and Medium Sized Practices Must 'Offer the Whole Package'
  6. UNICEFAhead of the African Union - EU Summit, Survey Highlights Impact of Conflict on Education
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council Calls for Closer Co-Operation on Foreign Policy
  8. Swedish EnterprisesTrilogue Negotiations - Striking the Balance Between Transparency and Efficiency
  9. Access EuropeProspects for US-EU Relations Under the Trump Administration - 28 November 2017
  10. World Vision20 November: Exchange of Views at the EP on Children Affected by the Syria Crisis
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable Growth the Nordic Way: Climate Solutions for a Sustainable Future
  12. EU2017EEHow Data Fuels Estonia's Economy

Latest News

  1. EU leaders make pledge on social issues after populist backlash
  2. EU agencies and eastern neighbours This WEEK
  3. Germany slams Dutch call for more ambitious EU climate goal
  4. Mind the gap: inequality in our cities
  5. Climate activists 'disappointed' with EU at climate talks
  6. Davis outlines UK vision on Brexit in Berlin
  7. German coalition talks in near collapse
  8. EU to proclaim 'pillar' of social rights in Gothenburg