PEGIDA marchers in Dresden defy Germany politicians

BBC News reports: Thousands of protesters have gathered in Dresden for an anti-Islamisation rally called in the wake of the Paris terror attacks.

It came despite calls from senior German politicians for marchers to stay at home.

Justice Minister Heiko Maas had appealed for people not to attend the Pegida organisation’s rally.

And Chancellor Angela Merkel has said she will attend a protest in Berlin by Muslim organisations on Tuesday.

Mr Maas was one of several leading politicians to urge the Pegida march organisers not to “misuse” the deadly attacks on Charlie Hebdo magazine and a Jewish supermarket.

However the rally went ahead despite the calls for it to be cancelled.

Der Spiegel reports on the origin of the the anti-Islam movement: The proprietors of the Zentralgasthof, a concert and variety show venue in the town of Weinböhla in the Elbe River valley near Dresden, know what people of the region like. “Folk hits,” are part of their program as is a Dresden-based cabaret artist known for his imitations of Erich Honecker, the former leader of communist East Germany.

On a Friday evening last November, the stage was turned over to Thilo Sarrazin, the bestselling anti-Muslim author. Outside the entrance, some 50, mostly young demonstrators were gathered. They called Sarrazin a “misanthrope and a blusterer”; one poster read: “Those who believe what Sarrazin says also believe the world is flat.” But inside, there were 10 times as many people, cheering the author on as an iconoclastic thinker who has the courage to say what everyone feels. The audience was full of office workers, small businessmen and tradespeople. Normal folks.

Also in the audience were Siegfried Däbritz and Thomas Tallacker. They had both read Sarrazin’s wildly popular book “Deutschland Schafft Sich Ab” — or “Germany Is Doing Away With Itself” — about the supposed dangers of immigration. But they were no longer satisfied with simply reading about the issues addressed in the book. Late last autumn, Däbritz, a security guard, and Tallacker, an interior designer, began marching at the front of regular demonstrations held by the still largely unknown group calling itself Pegida, an acronym for “Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West.”

The two men are among Pegida’s foremost organizers: With eight others, they form the anti-Islam movement’s core and they regularly meet to talk about the group’s agenda and prepare the weekly marches, held every Monday evening. They also maintain contact with other protest groups across the country. Shortly before Christmas, they registered Pegida as an association. [Continue reading…]

BBC News reported on last month’s record turnout PEGIDA rally in Dresden:

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