Every Monday evening since last October, thousands of citizens have marched through the city of Dresden as well as other German cities to protest the Islamization of their country. They belong to an organization, established only three months ago, called Pegida, the German abbreviation for “Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West.”
Pegida is a democratic grassroots organization, without origins in the far-left, far-right or links to any political parties, domestic or foreign. The French Front National [FN] of Marine Le Pen even made it clear that it wants nothing to do with “spontaneous initiatives” such as Pegida. According to the FN, “something like Pegida cannot be a substitute for a party.”
That Pegida is a spontaneous and diffuse organization of citizens expressing their discontent, seems to be worrying the German political establishment. German Chancellor Angela Merkel knows how powerful these movements can become. In 1989, when thousands of people shouting, “Wir sind das Volk” [“We are the people”] took to the streets in cities such as Dresden, the Communist regime in East Germany was toppled.
Apart from slogans such as: “Against Religious Fanaticism,” and: “For the Future of our Children,” the anti-Islamization protesters of Pegida are using exactly the same slogan — “Wir sind das Volk” — of the anti-Communist demonstrators a quarter of a century ago, as they march against the open-door policies of the German government.
The use of the 1989 liberation slogan has infuriated Merkel, who reproaches Pegida for using it. In her New Year’s speech, Merkel attacked the Pegida demonstrators. “Their hearts are cold, full of prejudice and hatred,” she said, while defending her government’s policies of welcoming asylum seekers and immigrants. She pointed out that Germany had taken in more than 200,000 asylum seekers in 2014, making it the country that is accepting the largest number of refugees in the world.
Merkel has been backed by church leaders, who are slamming Pegida and calling for solidarity with migrants. The Confederation of German Employers has been blaming Pegida for damaging Germany’s international reputation. Meanwhile, so-called anti-fascist demonstrators, shouting “Wir sind die Mauer. Das Volk muss weg!” [“We are the Wall. Down with the people!”], last week blocked a Pegida march in Berlin.
Pegida’s worries about the Islamization of Germany concern the seeming intolerance and religious fanaticism that have grown hand in hand with the arrival of Muslim populations unwilling to adapt to Western values.
But by decrying Pegida’s views as “xenophobic,” “narrow minded” and even “inhuman,” Germany’s ruling establishment shows how deeply out of touch it is with the worries of a large segment of the population.
A recent poll, dating from before the terror attacks in France, found that one in three Germans support the Pegida anti-Islamization marches. Further, a new study by the Bertelsmann Foundation found that German attitudes toward Islam are hardening, with 61% saying in 2014 that Islam is “not suited to the Western world” — up from 52% in 2012. Also, up to 57% of the Germans see Islam as a threat, 40% feel that they are becoming foreigners in their own country because of the Muslim presence, and 24% want to ban Muslim immigration.
Full article: Pegida: The New German Revolution (Gatestone Institute)