Turkish and Islamic nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) based in Germany, which hosts one of the largest populations of Muslim immigrants in Europe, have harshly condemned anti-Islam demonstrations held under the guise of patriotism in eastern Germany.
Criticizing populist German politicians as well as the German media, representatives of the NGOs stated that the prejudicial attitudes and behavior of political figures and media led to the creation of racist groups such as Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West (Pegida).
“While populist politicians have for years approached their Muslim minorities in an extremely prejudiced way, the German media, with their Islamophobic headlines, have paved the way for Islamophobia,” said European-Turkish Islam Union (ATİB) chief İhsan Öner.
According to German media reports, Pegida grew out of a social media group and now comprises at least 17,000 people who have gathered regularly since early December in Dresden, the birthplace of the movement, to protest against Islam, incoming Muslim immigrants and what they call “religious extremism.”
Every Monday at 6 p.m., tens of thousands of people assemble in Dresden, a city in eastern Germany, and chant slogans against Islam, Muslim immigrants and the Islamization of the country and of Europe. The group’s Facebook page has nearly 95,000 followers. The latest rally took place on Dec. 29 and the next one is scheduled to take place on Jan. 5, 2015.
Calling for an end to the political bias and media reports that are fueling anti-Muslim sentiments and thus leading to the formation of racist groups such as Pegida within German society, NGOs such as the European-Turkish Islamic Union (ATİB), the Central Council of Muslims in Germany (ZMD), the Federation of Democratic Workers Associations (DİDF) and the Islamic Society of National Vision (IGMG) said Germany can do better in its attempts to fight racism and discrimination.
ATİB General Director Öner believes these anti-İslamic movements and behavior have increased. “We are concerned as to our future as a Muslim minority in this country,” he said.