A record high of 18,000 people came out on Monday to join the anti-Islamification supporters of the group Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West (PEGIDA). Also on Monday, several cities held counter-protests to demonstrate against PEGIDA.
In Berlin, Hamburg, and Dresden, a combined 28,000 showed up to the anti-PEGIDA counter-demonstrations, the BBC reported.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel took the opportunity in her New Year’s Day speech to criticize the PEGIDA movement, describing those who joined as displaying “prejudice, coldness, even hatred in their hearts.” She said in a speech in early December, “There is no place in Germany for Islamophobia,” with regard to the PEGIDA rallies.
The far left-wing UK paper The Guardian covered the rallies, describing demonstrators as part of a “Pinstripe Nazi party.” The Guardian has come to the aforementioned conclusion, not because there was any type of Nazi-like sentiment in the rallies, but because the paper alleged that neo-Nazi groups have embraced their anti-Islamification ideals.
Although the German government and mainstream media have continued to suggest that PEGIDA is “far-right,” “extremist,” and Nazi-like, the organization’s slogan tells a far different story about their ideology. It’s “We are the people” motto is borrowed from the freedom fighters in the former East Germany who used the same phrase in encouraging authorities to knock down the Berlin Wall.
On December 10th, PEGIDA posted a series of bullet points to inform individuals as to where it stands on several issues. The group describes itself as focused on “protecting our Judeo-Christian Western culture,” against “Sharia Law, Sharia Police, and Sharia Courts,” and rejecting “religious radicalism” and “hate preachers, regardless of religious affiliation.”