Germany: Muslims to march in protest of widespread racial hatred

In the face of massive anti-Islam protests organized by Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West (PEGIDA), Germany will witness a major counter-demonstration on Jan. 5 to protest widespread hatred toward Muslims in German society, which has a long history of fear of foreigners, dating back to the Nazi regime’s extermination of the Jewish community. Since then, neo-Nazi movements have led ongoing discriminatory practices and violent attacks against immigrants.

At least 13 nongovernmental organizations of Muslim and ethnic Turkish immigrants in Germany released a joint declarations stating that they would give significant support to the upcoming demonstration against PEGIDA, while calling for other organizations to join the counter-protest in Cologne. “We are calling on all citizens to join the demonstration in Cologne on Jan. 5 and take a stance against racism, xenophobia, hatred against foreigners and hostility against Islam,” the organizations said in a joint statement, as reported by Anadolu Agency. “We will support all democratic initiatives and allies that oppose PEGIDA and other groups inspired by it,” the statement added.

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Cologne Cathedral to turn out the lights in protest at anti-Muslim march

One of Germany’s most famous landmarks, Cologne Cathedral, will be plunged into darkness on Monday evening in protest at a march by a growing grass-roots anti-Muslim movement through the western German city, cathedral authorities said.

The rise of the group, Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West (PEGIDA), has shaken Germany’s political establishment, prompting Chancellor Angela Merkel to say in her New Year address that its leaders were racists full of hatred and citizens should beware being used.

PEGIDA’s last weekly rally in the eastern city of Dresden attracted some 17,000 people, and the movement plans further marches in other cities, including through the center of Cologne on Monday night with a rally by the cathedral.

“PEGIDA is made up of an astonishingly broad mix of people, ranging from those in the middle of society to racists and the extreme right-wing,” Cathedral Dean Norbert Feldhoff told Reuters.

“By switching off the floodlighting we want to make those on the march stop and think. It is a challenge: consider who you are marching alongside.”

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One in 8 Germans would join anti‑Muslim marches: poll

PEGIDA Heimatschutz statt IslamisierungOne German in eight would join an anti-Muslim march if a rapidly-growing protest movement organized one in their home towns, according to an opinion poll published on Thursday.

The survey highlighted growing support in Germany, as in other European Union countries including Britain and Sweden, for parties and movements tapping into voter fears that mainstream politicians are too soft on immigration.

Some members of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative bloc worry that they risk losing support to the euro-sceptic Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which has shifted its focus to immigration and includes many who also back the PEGIDA protest movement – Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West.

PEGIDA is holding weekly rallies in the eastern city of Dresden, and attracted more than 17,000 people to a Dec. 22 rally. A few small marches have taken place in other towns, and it plans to stage further rallies in other German cities.

In her New Year address, Merkel urged Germans to turn their backs on PEGIDA’s leaders, calling them racists full of hatred, and said Europe’s biggest economy must welcome people fleeing conflict and war.

A poll of 1,006 people by Forsa for Germany’s Stern magazine found 13 percent would attend an anti-Muslim march nearby. It also found 29 percent of people believed that Islam was having such an influence on life in Germany that the marches were justified.

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Anti-Islam protest groups have hatred in their heart, warns Merkel

Angela Merkel urged Germans yesterday to reject a growing anti-Islam protest movement, warning that its leaders had “hatred in their hearts”.

The chancellor showed the deep concern among Berlin’s political establishment at the weekly marches through Dresden organised by Pegida (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West). The movement is spreading to other German cities.

Her strongly worded address, broadcast on national television last night, criticised Russia for its actions in Ukraine and called for Germans to welcome refugees from the war in Syria.

The Pegida movement in the eastern city of Dresden began in October with a few hundred demonstrators, but 17,000 people turned out on ten days ago for the latest Monday night march. It has adopted a slogan used before the fall of the Iron Curtain against the repressive communist regime of East Germany.

“Today many people are again shouting on Mondays, ‘We are the people’. But in fact they mean, You do not belong – because of the colour of your skin or your religion,” Mrs Merkel said in her message. “So I say to everyone who goes to such demonstrations: do not follow those who are appealing to you. Because too often there is prejudice, coldness, even hatred in their hearts.”

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German-Turkish NGOs condemn growing Islamophobia in Germany

İhsan ÖnerTurkish 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.

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German-Turkish group warns against ‘dialogue’ with far-right

safter cinarA Turkish community leader in Germany warned Sunday against proposals by mainstream politicians for “dialogue” with a far-right populist movement that has drawn thousands to anti-Islamic street protests.

Several ministers and lawmakers have argued the government must listen to the fears about immigration voiced by the so-called “Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident” or PEGIDA.

The chairman of the Turkish Community in Germany, Safter Cinar, warned that seeking to understand PEGIDA was dangerous and that xenophobia and racism must remain taboo, the newspaper Tagesspiegel reported.

“What kind of dialogue are we talking about?” he said about the movement which drew a record 17,500 marchers in the eastern city of Dresden last Monday. “Should we tell the demonstrators that Muslims are human beings too?”

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Thousands sign online petition against German anti-Islam PEGIDA movement

Anti-PEGIDA petitionMore than 65,000 people have signed an internet petition against the right-wing PEGIDA movement since it was established on Christmas Eve. The signatures are being collected on, with its organizer aiming to reach 1 million.

PEGIDA was formed in October in response to growing sentiment within Germany against immigration and Islam, with its protests particularly focused on the eastern German city of Dresden. The group’s name loosely translates to “Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West.”

The latest protest in Dresden on Monday drew a record 17,500 people. However, resistance to the movement is growing, with thousands joining counter-demonstrations.

“Now is the time to profess that the phrase ‘We are the people!’, regardless of origin, color, religion or whatever, has been and must continue to hold true,” organizer Karl Lempert said.

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UKIP official retweets pro‑PEGIDA comments

The PEGIDA demonstration in Dresden last Monday, in which an estimated 17,500 people protested against immigration and the “Islamisation of the west”, was widely condemned as a shocking example of xenophobia and intolerance that has no place in Germany.

Needless to say, on the British far right PEGIDA has been hailed as an inspiration in the fight to stem the Muslim takeover of Europe. It has certainly renewed the enthusiasm of former English Defence League leader Stephen Lennon (“Tommy Robinson”) for Islamophobic street protests, and he has tweeted his intention to try and emulate PEGIDA’s success when his ban on associating with members of the EDL runs out next July.

Another person to be impressed by PEGIDA’s achievements is Helen Hims, who is chair of the Wells branch of UKIP and vice-chair of the party in Somerset. She retweeted a number of approving comments on Monday’s demonstration (“German anti muslim protestors demand an end to Islamisation with record high turnout”, “Growing Anti Muslim marches in Germany….Excellent!”) earlier this week, including one from Lennon himself (“Germany is waking up, are we?”)

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Green MPs warn of growing threat of Islamophobia in Germany

Ozcan Mutlu and Belit Onay

“Islamophobia poses a big problem in Germany, like anti-Semitism,” warns Özcan Mutlu [above, left], a representative of the Green Party in the German parliament in Berlin.

Speaking with The Anadolu Agency on Thursday, Mutlu warned that the rising turnout of the demonstrations was of grave concern for the five million Muslims of Germany. Demonstrations in the East German city of Dresden led by the far right group Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the Occident have attracted thousands.

“Islamophobia has peaked nowadays in Germany, becoming especially widespread in Europe after the 9/11 terror attacks,” he pointed out.

Mutlu blames German media for failing to adequately cover the threat. “German media has not taken its responsibility of warning the people about Islamophobia so far,” Mutlu said.

“The problem is not the large turnout at these demonstrations, but the fact that they propogate racism and Islamophobia,” Mutlu said. Mutlu pointed out the anomaly that a large number of demonstrators turn out in Dresden, yet the city has a relatively small Muslim population.

Nearly 100,000 Turkish entrepreneurs in Germany employ approximately 400,000 people, according to the Independent Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association. “The demonstrators’ concerns are completely irrelevant, because, the immigrants in Germany do not harm the German economy; on the contrary, they make a contribution to the economy.”

The Green Party has demanded the enhancement of new programs and projects for immigrants, as well as additional financing for them. “But the ruling parties do not agree with us, and they have declined all of our demands,” Mutlu complained.

Mutlu also said that paying more attention to education was essential in eliminating Islamophobia, anti-semitism and anti-immigrant feeling. “We have to teach our children to be aware of racism, and we also have to teach that multiculturalism is rich.”

Lower Saxony Green Party Deputy Belit Onay [above, right] drew attention to the rising number of mosque attacks in Germany, saying that the mosque attackers are driven by Islamophobia. “There is no proof that the organized crime syndicates have committed the attacks,” Onay told AA.

The most recent mosque attack occurred in Dormagen city in the federal state of Northern Rhein-Westphalia on Saturday. Neo-Nazis attacked the Turkish-Islamic Union’s Suleymaniye Mosque by painting swastikas on its walls.

“The mosque attack in Dormagen is unfortunately a common type of attack,” Onay said. “After the 9/11 terror attacks, an average of one mosque attack every two weeks has been carried out in Germany from 2001 to 2011.”

The Turkish Parliament’s Human Rights Committee issued a report in November on the arson attacks targeting the mosques in Germany. The conclusion of the report was that the attacks had become frequent, and that suspects could not be arrested.

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President praises Germans on refugees amid rallies


Germany’s president on Wednesday praised his compatriots’ willingness to take in refugees and said he is glad that most people don’t want to “seal Germany off,” a message that comes as growing anti-Islam demonstrations in an eastern city have worried many.

President Joachim Gauck’s Christmas message didn’t mention directly the rallies in Dresden organized by a group calling itself Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West, or PEGIDA. But he said society “needs its citizens to respect each other and to heed each other, day in, day out.”

Mainstream German politicians have been divided between outright condemnation of the rallies and saying that demonstrators’ concerns should be taken seriously. Immigration has emerged as a contentious topic lately in Germany, partly due to a sharp rise in asylum applications, particularly from Syrians.

Gauck said he wanted to tell those “worried by developments in the world” not to be afraid. “Taking fears seriously does not mean giving in to them,” he said.

He praised Germans’ “great willingness … to take in refugees” and said it was encouraging “that the vast majority of us do not share the views of those who want to seal Germany off.”

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