Marches have been taking place in major German towns and cities, leading police to fear a return to right wing hooliganism.
A march in Frankfurt last weekend left no doubt as to the concerns of the protestors despite only involving around 50 people, according to a report in German newspaper Die Welt.
“We will return the Salafists (jihadis) to where they belong” cry the organisers.
For several months now, the authorities in Germany have seen more and more groups spring up, particularly in urban areas. The ‘common enemy’ as they call extreme Islam, has united previously hostile gangs; at a demonstration in Mannheim at the end of September, members of groups from Frankfurt and Stuttgart joined in the protest. The goal of ‘eradicating jihadis’ is uniting these groups, where hooliganism had seen a decline.
“These groups use the currently very popular anti-Islamic ticket to perpetuate their cynical world view” says Robert Fanforscher Claus from the University of Hanover. And social media and the internet are providing these groups with opportunities to spread their message which was previously denied to them.
They even speak of a ‘Tour of Germany’ where sympathisers are informed at the last moment via internet chat rooms of protest marches where attendees are told to bring equipment such as masks and symbols of the extreme right.
The movement started up again earlier this year on closed Facebook groups. but police say there is an estimated 300 hard-core members who are taking their message onto the streets to attract the support of the German public. They want to take back the streets, they say, and they are not subtle in how they hope to bring that about. Amongst the placards and chants there is talk of rape and drowning jihadis in pigs’ blood jostling along side pictures of roaring monkeys juxtaposed with posters of alleged hate preachers.
“These groups have increased lately and become much more aggressive” says Rainer Wendt, Chairman of the German Police Union.
He blames ‘one sided information’ on social media as well as the political developments in Syria for the changes.
“There may be really bad riots and street fighting” he says and fears that the target could spread to other minority groups in Germany such as the Turkish community. But he is not surprised at this turn of events and criticises politicians and their reticence, saying “People who are surprised are the ones who have not been looking in the last few years. It is hard to see now how anyone can not notice.”