In their ninth weekly ‘evening stroll’, German anti-Islamification group PEGIDA (Patriotic Europeans Against Islamisation of the West) have attracted a remarkable 15,000 supporters as mothers, children, and pensioners joined together under “for the future of our children” banners and marched through Dresden.
Frustrated with the German government, a grand coalition of centrist parties that has engineered an explosion in asylum applications and refused to debate the merits of mass immigration, ordinary German citizens have taken to using the slogans and methods last used by their own dissenting parents in the eastern city.
Slogans such as “we are the people”, and taking massive synchronised ‘evening strolls’ rather than going on protest marches were techniques used by citizen objectors during the dying days of the Communist era in Eastern Germany, as well as other Soviet bloc nations. In Communist Poland thousands would take to the streets for leisurely strolls as the government-controlled evening television news came on during the period of martial-law in the 1980’s. They are now being dusted off again.
The protest marches were started by Lutz Bachmann, who claims to be a non-political patriotic European, after a series of violent street battles between extremist Salafist Muslims and Kurds in October. Breitbart London reported the extraordinary scenes as thousands clashed violently in Berlin, Hamburg, Bremen, Hannover, Dusseldorf, Dortmund, Münster, Frankfurt, and Stuttgart over grievances imported from the Middle East.
Shots were reported to have been fired over the course of the disturbances, and weapons including guns, knives, brass knuckles, iron bars, a machete and even kebab skewers were recovered by police during the riots.
Despite being a non-violent reaction to these events, the PEGIDA movement has been dismissed by left-wing members of the government as “nazis in pinstripes”. The protests in Dresden have been met by counter-demonstrations egged on by the government, indeed calling the march a “disgrace” Justice Minister Heiko Maas called for a “broad counter-movement embracing civil society and all political parties” to oppose them.
The variety of banners and comments by marchers reflect the way the movement has also come to encompass a broader variety of concerns, rather than just massive street violence by “ISIS terrorist Militias” in German cities. The Guardian reports the comment of one ‘middle aged’ woman who said she was walking with PEGIDA because “asylum seekers in Germany have expensive mobile phones, while I cannot afford such luxury and others still cannot afford to eat properly”.
Although Germany has been paralysed by it’s past for decades, the PEGIDA movement appears to be sparking debate for the first time on matters such as extremism, religion, and immigration for the first time since the war.
Banners included slogans such as “Against Religious Fanaticism”, “daring to tell truth”, and “Christian Dresden welcomes PEGIDA”. One woman told news crews: “I’m here because I’m worried about my country, I’m worried about my granddaughter. But I’m not xenophobic – refugees are welcome, but I don’t like economic migrants”.
Although the protests have been criticised by the main German parties, insurgent political force Alternative fur Deutschand (AfD) have expressed sympathy and support. Their leader of the party, which has been compared to the Tea Party or UKIP, Bernd Lucke said: “The greatest part of them are legitimate demands”.
An announcement by the group this morning stated the next march would take the form of a massive Christmas carol sing-a-long in Dresden’s Theatre Square on Monday. Entitled ‘Christmas With Pegida’, the invitation was extended to over 67,000 Facebook followers.