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Pegida

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Pegida

Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West
Patriotische Europäer gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes
Logo of Pegida
Abbreviation PEGIDA
Formation 2014
Legal status applied for nonprofit organisation status
Location
Chair
Lutz Bachmann
Vice-chair
Rene Jahn
Website .de.pegidawww

Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident[note 1] (Islamisation of the Western world, calling for more restrictive immigration rules, particularly for Muslims. It seeks to alter German immigration legislation so that it becomes similar to Australian immigration programs and Canadian immigration categories. Offshoots of Pegida were formed in various countries.

Contents

  • History 1
    • Origin 1.1
    • First wave of demonstrations 1.2
    • Aftermath of Charlie Hebdo and rising tensions 1.3
    • Resignations 1.4
    • Reinstatement 1.5
    • Dresden mayoral election, 2015 1.6
    • Resuming protests and radicalization 1.7
  • Political positions 2
  • Participants and supporters 3
  • Reactions 4
    • Counterdemonstrations 4.1
    • Polls 4.2
    • Public debate 4.3
    • Political reactions 4.4
    • Reactions from political scientists 4.5
    • International reactions 4.6
  • Offshoots and variations 5
    • In Germany 5.1
    • International 5.2
  • Footnotes 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

History

Origin

Pegida was founded in October 2014 by Lutz Bachmann, who runs a public relations agency in Dresden.[4] Bachmann's impetus for starting Pegida was witnessing a rally by supporters of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) on 10 October 2014 in Dresden,[5][6] which he posted on YouTube on the same day.[7] The next day he founded a Facebook group called Patriotische Europäer Gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes ("Patriotic Europeans against Islamisation of the Occident")[8] which initially was directed mainly against arms shipments to the PKK.[5]

A few days earlier, on 7 October a group of Muslims, assumed to be Salafists had violently attacked PKK supporters who were gathering after a demonstration against the Islamic State.[9] The same day Yazidis and Muslim Chechens had violently clashed in Celle.[10] On 26 October, out of 5,000 protesters, "at least 400 right-wing extremists went on a rampage in downtown Cologne during a demonstration" by "Hooligans Against Salafists".[5]

First wave of demonstrations

The first demonstration or "evening stroll" (according to Pegida)[11] took place on October 20, 2014 which only attracted a handful of people.[5][12] During the following days the movement began gaining wider public attention and subsequently the weekly Monday demonstrations drew larger numbers of people. Among the 7,500 participants on December 1, 2014 the police identified 80 to 120 hooligans. The demonstration grew to a number of 10,000 people on 8 December 2014.[12][13]

During weekly demonstrations on Monday evenings Pegida supporters carried banners with slogans such as "For the preservation of our culture", "Against religious fanaticism, against any kind of radicalism, together without violence", "Against religious wars on German soil",[14] "Peace with Russia – No war in Europe ever again" and "We are emancipated citizens and not slaves".[15]

On December 19, 2014 PEGIDA e.V. was legally registered in Dresden under the registration ID VR 7750[16] with Bachmann being chairman, Rene Jahn vice-chairman and Kathrin Oertel as treasurer. Pegida also formally applied for the status as a [140]

The Arabic news network Al Jazeera primarily reported on counter demonstrations.[136]

Offshoots and variations

In Germany

Pegida has spawned a number of smaller offshoots across Germany, including Legida in English Defence League.[143]

In December 2014, rival right-wing forces founded an anti-American Facebook group under the name PEGADA (German: Patriotische Europäer gegen die Amerikanisierung des Abendlandes, or "Patriotic Europeans Against the Americanization of the West"), claiming the true problem was not the phenomenon of Islamism but the suspected American forces behind it. On 25 January they held a first rally in Erfurt under the title EnDgAmE (Engagierte Demokraten gegen die Amerikanisierung Europas, or "Committed democrats against the Americanisation of Europe"). Promoted by a number of activists of the Third Position Mahnwachen-Movement, which was largely successful in 2014, by Hooligans against Salafists (Hogesa) and by a Russian news portal[144] they attracted some 1,000 protesters, but were opposed by 800 mostly left-wing counter-demonstrators[145] including Erfurt's mayor Andreas Bausewein and members of labor unions, Jusos and the local Antifa.[50]

International

Pegida-demonstration in Vienna on 2 February 2015

In January 2015, Pegida sympathisers held their first rally in Oslo, Norway with around 200 protesters,[146] but this small support quickly collapsed to 25 and by February 2015 Pegida was facing 'complete failure' in Norway,[147] and in March was described by the Norwegian national broadcaster as in 'full dissolution'.[148] In neighbouring Denmark, around 200 protesters marched in the capital, Copenhagen.[149] In the same month, a Spanish branch applied for a protest outside the main mosque in Madrid, which was rejected by government officials.[150] Marches were planned in Switzerland and Antwerp, Belgium but not permitted due to anti-terrorism raids in Verviers one week earlier.[151] The Antwerp demonstration was finally held on March 2, 2015 without the mayor's permission. About 350 persons were present and about 227 of them received a fine for participating in a forbidden demonstration.

As of 31 January 2015 a 'Pegida USA' Twitter account had about 350 followers described its stance as "Freedom, tolerance, rule of law. Positions of @pegidaUSA may not fully overlap with PEGIDA but are in agreement with stand against totalitarian barbarism."[152]

On 28 February 2015, Pegida UK held its first protest in

  • Official website

External links

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  2. ^ "Germany's Pegida anti-Islam movement unravelling". The Telegraph. 28 January 2015. 
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  4. ^ Connolly, Kate (15 December 2014). "Estimated 15,000 people join ‘pinstriped Nazis’ on march in Dresden". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 January 2015. 
  5. ^ a b c d e SPIEGEL Staff (December 21, 2014). "The End of Tolerance? Anti-Muslim Movement Rattles Germany". Der Spiegel. Retrieved 3 January 2015. 
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  9. ^ "Pro-ISIS radicals with machetes, knives attack Kurds in Germany".  
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  12. ^ a b c d Smale, Alison (7 December 2014). "In German City Rich With History and Tragedy, Tide Rises Against Immigration". New York Times. Retrieved 16 December 2014. 
  13. ^ a b c Kirschbaum, Erik (16 December 2014). "Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West quickly gathering support in Germany". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 16 December 2014. 
  14. ^ Stute, Dennis (7 December 2014). "Anti-Islamist protests with right-wing ties expand in Germany".  
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  17. ^ Fischer, Christian (12 January 2015). "So will Pegida mit den Demos Geld machen".  
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  150. ^ "Anti-Islamist movement Pegida surfaces in Spain".  
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  152. ^ Lucinda Borkett-Jones (15 January 2015). "Anti-Islamist group Pegida spreads across Europe". Christian Today (CMCi Group). Retrieved 1 February 2015. 
  153. ^ Anti-Islamisation' group Pegida UK holds Newcastle march"'". BBC News. 28 February 2015. Retrieved 2 March 2015. 
  154. ^ Dearden, Lizzie. "http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/pegida-in-london-british-supporters-of-antiislamisation-group-rally-in-downing-street-10155887.html". The Independent. Retrieved 4 April 2015. 
  155. ^ "Åtta från Pegida - 5 000 motdemonstranter - Sydsvenskan". Sydsvenskan.se. 2015-02-09. Retrieved 2015-02-17. 
  156. ^ Andreas Örwall Lovén. "Få deltog i första Pegida-aktionen | Inrikes | SvD" (in Svenska). Svd.se. Retrieved 2015-02-17. 
  157. ^ Expo Idag: Endast fyra demonstrerade med Pegida i Linköping
  158. ^ UNT: Kravallstaket runt Forumtorget
  159. ^ Fria Tidningen: Svenska Pegida lägger ner
  160. ^ PEGIDA Québec cancels march after anti-racist groups convene. Anti-Islam group with European roots and National Front sympathies organizes in Quebec Tracey Lindeman, CBC News, March 28, 2015
  161. ^ Vimeo user Liberta Rias. Antifascists Crush "PEGIDA Canada". 23 September 2015 Video showing anti-PEGIDA demonstrators clashing with PEGIDA Canada in Toronto

References

  1. ^ While the majority of English language sources use the term "West", a more precise translation of "Abendland" is the historic term "Occident" i.e. the opposite of "Orient".

Footnotes

A demonstration on 28 March 2015 in Montreal, Canada, by sympathisers of Pegida was cancelled when hundreds of people gathered to counter-protest.[160] A demonstration on 19 September 2015 in Toronto was attended by about a dozen members of PEGIDA Canada. The demonstration ended in a melee with counter-protesters who outnumbered PEGIDA members about twenty to one.[161]

The first Pegida demonstration in Sweden gathered eight people in Malmö and 5,000 opponents.[155][156] When Pegida called a demonstration in Linköping they gathered four persons.[157] In Uppsala PEGIDA managed to gather about ten persons.[158] Following several failed demonstrations and internal strife the Swedish branch dissolved.[159]

[154] There was a small Pegida demonstration in London on 4 April 2015, with a counter-demonstration by anti-fascist groups.[153] Turkey's

Russia Today reported comprehensively on Pegida. Their subsidiary Ruptly broadcast several rallies live on the internet.[139]

The New York Times claimed that because of its communist history, East Germany was more xenophobic than the rest of the country. The paper states that in light of the low numbers of Muslims living in Saxony, the fear of Islamisation was bizarre.[138]

The Times claimed that for the first time since 1945 a populist movement publicly complained about an ethnic minority. This would frighten the establishment. Germany is not used to such large numbers of demonstrators supporting such positions, said BBC News.[136] The Guardian described Pegida as an emerging campaign against immigrants that would eventually endanger tourism.[137]

The controversy around Pegida sparked reactions from international media as well. In France, Le Monde that Islamophobia divided German society, while Libération and L'Opinion discussed possible parallels to the Front National.[134] Several French and francophone cartoonists published a flyer aimed against a funeral march by Pegida in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo shooting in January 2015. The signatories - among them a surviving member of Charlie Hebdo's editorial staff – disapproved of Pegida using the mourning to create attention for their own cause. They stated that Pegida symbolised everything Charlie Hebdo had fought against and asked the population of Dresden for more tolerance and to be open for different cultures.[135]

International reactions

Political theorist Wolfgang Jäger considers Pegida a part of increasingly right-wing populist tendencies in Europe, in their Islamophobia possibly being the heir to the widespread antisemitism. He claims that the demonstrations themselves expose the movements‘ moderate position paper as a fig leaf for "blatantly unconstitutional xenophobia". Thus, democrats should not sympathise with the movement, as especially their referring to Christian-Jewish values was contrary to their actual demands. Jäger also voiced concerns about the "ghosts of the old nationalism re-entering Germany through the back door". According to the political theorists, a democracy needs to be measured by how it protects its minorities. The required knowledge of foreign cultures should already be taught in schools. Only in this way it would be possible to understand globalisation as a chance for cultural enrichment in the face of global terrorism.[133]

On 5 January 2015, the Council on Migration[131] called for a new general orientation in German society. As in their eyes, migration was controllable only to a limited extent, they suggested an orientation committee. Consisting of politicians and representatives of immigrants and minorities, they should work together in order to analyse and redefine "German identity and solidarity in a pluralist republican society". Their results were to be included in German schools‘ curricula in order to emphasise the historical importance of migration in Germany. In the eyes of the Council, German policy has been influenced for far too long by the CDU‘s guiding principle of "Germany not being a land of immigration". Thus, a concept of integration should include foreigners and refugees in German society. According to the Council, German integration policy should not only focus on immigrants, but also provide courses on integration for groups such as Pegida. Praising German chancellor Angela Merkel‘s distancing herself from Pegida, the Council stressed that an immigration society is a very complex construct.[132]

Political scientist and researcher on extremism Armin Pfahl-Traughber considers Pegida demonstrations "a new phenomenon of xenophobia".[129] In an interview, he accused Pegida leaders of fueling "hostility and hatred against people of different ethnicity or religion".[130]

In an interview about Pegida, researcher on prejudice Wolfgang Benz referred to his previous warnings about right-wing extremists using the fear of foreign infiltration to their ends. It was not the formation but the attendance figures that really surprised him.[128]

Explaining especially those protests against the actually non-existent threat of Islamisation from people with middle-class background, political scientist Gesine Schwan referred to results from studies on prejudice. These studies indicate that aggressive prejudices do not originate from those groups met with resentment, but are rather a result of the situation of those who have them. In addition, fear of social decline often seems to be expressed through aggression. This is then directed especially against those minorities which may seem dangerous, but are in reality unable to defend themselves, often due a perceived unpopularity within the respective society. In the first half of the 20th century, it was the Jewish minority who were imputed with plans for world domination. Today, it is the Muslim minority who is accused of plotting an Islamisation of Europe.[127]

Political philosopher Jürgen Manemann considers Pegida an antipolitical movement. According to Manemann, political action serves the common good and thus requires politicians to voice especially the interests of minorities. While politics was based on pluralism, Pegida was in fact anti-pluralistic and thus anti-political. In Manemann’s eyes, the movement has neither an appreciation of otherness nor empathy, which he sees as the basic virtue of political action.[126]

In a similar fashion, historian Götz Aly traces the fact that Pegida were able to form in Dresden back to the city’s history. In one of his columns in the Berliner Zeitung he referred to the Jewish emancipation of 19th century Saxony, where the comparatively few resident Jews were faced with unequally difficult legal obstacles. Aly concluded that in Dresden “freedom, self-aggrandising local presumption and fear of foreigners” have long belonged together.[125]

In his article for German newspaper Zeit Online, political scientist and historian Michael Lühmann called it “cynical, to want to place Pegida in the tradition of 1989”. The demonstrators in Dresden don’t see themselves standing in the thinking tradition of the extreme right-wing, he says, but they fit the bill for “extremism of the center-ground”, which is far spread in Saxony and for whose “group-based misanthropy … at times the CDU, but prevalently the NPD and as of now the AfD stand” in parliament.[124]

According to right-wing extremism researcher Johannes Kies, Pegida states what many people think.[120] However, he says, the lines are blurred: Although the organizers and participants don’t see themselves as extremists, their views are anti-democratic and derogatory towards certain minorities. They promote statements that draw on prejudices or are stigmatizing for the people in question. Kies says that these opinions are widespread in society and that great anti-democratic potential is erupting there.[121] According to Alexander Häusler we are facing “a right-wing oriented group of enraged citizens”, that “mingles with members of the right-wing scene and even hooligans.”[122] Political scientist Hajo Funke sees a connection between Pegida and the great increase in attacks on asylum seekers in 2014. He says that because politics didn’t react to the population’s fear of ever increasing numbers of asylum seekers, these groups could utilize these fears and fan them further.[123]

Hans-Gerd Jaschke thinks that the demands in Pegida’s position paper stem from the middle class center-right and could as well be the content of CDU/CSU’s position papers.[118] Social psychologist Andreas Zick from the Institute for Interdisciplinary Research on Conflict and Violence (IKG) assesses the party as a “middle-class right-wing populist movement”.[119]

Political scientist Werner J. Patzelt[115] from Dresden believes that politicians are clueless when it comes to dealing with Pegida. He says that this points to a serious problem of society, which neither the left wing nor parties of the political middle ground concern themselves with. This allows new social initiatives critical of Islam and immigrants to form.[116] The demonstrators are normal people approachable by the CDU, if only the party stopped following Vogel-Strauß politics concerning immigration.[117]

Reactions from political scientists

On January 26, 2015 the US Overseas Security Advisory Council published an online security message entitled "Demonstration Notice Riots/Civil Unrest", stating U.S.citizens in Berlin, Frankfurt and Munich may "encounter PEGIDA and counter-PEGIDA demonstrations" on 1/26/15 and February 16 in Düsseldorf, and "should avoid areas of demonstrations".[114]

In November 2014, Saxony's minister of interior Markus Ulbig (CDU) claimed that foreign criminals stay in Germany too long. He announced the creation of a special police unit to deal with criminal immigrants in Dresden and the rest of Saxony. Investigators and specialists in criminal and immigrant law would collaborate to process foreign criminals in the criminal justice system, and prevent those not eligible for asylum from obtaining the right to stay in Germany.[112] Ulbig admitted that there were a number of criminal acts committed by immigrants near the homes for asylum-seekers, but they were a minority and should not be allowed to undermine the solidarity with the great majority of law-abiding refugees. He said police worked on criminal immigrant cases too slowly.[113]

Political reactions

The Spiegel asked what motives were driving those behind the demonstrations, how much the movement reflected societal beliefs, where its name came from, and how "xenophobia became "PEGIDA's most important mobiliser" by looking at Siegfried Däbritz and Thomas Tallacker, who with eight others formed PEGIDA's core.[111]

Commentators have attributed the success of Pegida to widespread dissatisfaction with European immigration policies amidst an increasing alienation toward the political elites and the mainstream media.[109] A poll of 1,006 people by Forsa Institute for the German magazine Stern found 13 percent would attend an anti-Muslim march nearby and that 29 percent believed that the marches were justified because Islam was having such an influence on life in Germany.[110] A poll by the Spiegel found a similar result, 34 percent of Germans agreeing with Pegida protestors in that the influence of Islam in Germany is growing.[5]

Bachmann's credibility as a leader has been criticised because he has numerous criminal convictions, including "16 burglaries, driving drunk or without a license and even dealing in cocaine".[12] In 1998 he fled to South Africa to avoid German justice, but was finally extradited and served his 2-year jail sentence.[11][108]

Pegida have been criticised by Lutheran clergy, including the Bishop of Hamburg Kirsten Fehrs.[107]

Aiman Mazyek from the Central Council of Muslims in Germany stated that again and again right-wing extremists gave the public the false impression of a racist Germany. The slogans of the protesters showed that xenophobia and anti-Semitic racism had become socially acceptable.

Josef Schuster, chairman of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, voiced his opposition to the group, saying that the possibility of an Islamic conquest of Germany would be as "absurd" as a resurrection of the Nazi regime. Schuster described Pegida as being "highly dangerous": “It starts with verbal assault and leads to actual attacks like the one on a planned refugee hostel in Bavaria." He referred to an arson attack on a home for asylum-seekers that was ready for occupation. After the attack, Swastika graffitis were found on the scene. Schuster said that Pegida is a combination of "neo-Nazis, far-right parties and citizens who think to be finally allowed to openly show their racism and xenophobia." He stated that the fear of Islamist terror was being exploited to disparage an entire religion. For him this was unacceptable.[106]

Chancellor Angela Merkel has criticised Pegida, saying that while everyone had the right to voice their opinion freely, there was no place in Germany for criticism of the migration policy,[13] later adding that the leaders of Pegida "have prejudice, coldness, even hatred in their hearts.”[101] The Federal Minister of the Interior Thomas de Maizière said that among the participants of the mass rallies were many ordinary people who expressed their concerns about the challenges of today's society.[102] Bernd Lucke, the leader of the political party Alternative for Germany, considered most of the positions of Pegida to be legitimate.[103] According to Lucke, the people taking part in these demonstrations did not feel that their concerns were being understood by politicians.[104] Similarly, the Dresden city council fraction of the Alternative for Germany welcomed Pegida's weekly "walks".[105]

Public debate

A special report by the Bertelsmann Foundation regarding the Religion Monitor, complemented by a TNS Emnid survey from November 2014, showed that a majority of German citizens considered Islam dangerous. Consequently, there seemed to be a "strong sympathy“ for „Pegida paroles“. In absolute numbers, 57% of all surveyed thought of Islam as a danger. 40% felt like "foreigners in their own country“, while 24% stated that they would like to prevent further Muslim immigration. These opinions were not exclusive to any political camps or social classes.[100]

On 18 December 2014, the Forsa Institute conducted a survey which showed that 67% of all surveyed Germans considered the danger of Islamisation exaggerated. 29%, consisting of 71% of all surveyed AfD supporters, felt too strong an Islamic influence in Germany and deemed respective demonstrations justified. 13% said they would participate in protests near their residence. 10%, consisting of 57% of all surveyed AfD followers, would even vote for an anti-Islamic party.[99]

A representative survey by TNS Emnid conducted from 17 to 18 December 2014 showed that 85% of all 1006 surveyed were not willing to participate in demonstrations for Pegida policy. Only 9%, more than half of all surveyed AfD followers, said they were in fact willing to demonstrate.[98]

A survey by TNS Infratest conducted in December 2014 on behalf of German magazine Der Spiegel showed that 65% of all surveyed German citizens felt that the government did not respond appropriately to their concerns about asylum policy and immigration. 28% disagreed, while 34% observed an increasing Islamization in Germany.[97]

On behalf of German online newspaper Zeit Online, YouGov conducted a survey from 12 to 15 December 2014. The survey showed that 30% of all 1107 surveyed felt sympathetic for the demonstrations. Another 19% said they were understanding rather than the opposite. 26% approved at least partially of the demonstrations, while 10% showed little sympathy and a further 13% no understanding at all.[96]

According to a survey by the Emnid institute conducted in December 2014, 53% of East Germans and 48% of West Germans showed understanding for Pegida demonstrations. Ordered by political parties, supporters consisted of 86% of all surveyed AfD members, 54% of all CDU members, 46% of all SPD members and 19% of all questioned supporters of Die Linke and Die Grünen respectively.[94] 43% of all Germans participating in the survey thought that Pegida protesters are mainly concerned about the "spread of Islam“. 33% believed that mainly right wing extremists attend their demonstrations.[95]

Polls

German tabloid newspaper Bild launched a petition against Pegida, including former Chancellors Helmut Schmidt and Gerhard Schröder, as well as actress Karoline Herfurth and former footballer Oliver Bierhoff.[93]

In protest against a Pegida march, the floodlights of the Catholic Cologne Cathedral were switched off on the evening of January 5.[92] Dresden's Volkswagen plant used the same method of protest.[93]

Numerous protests against Pegida and affiliated movements in cities across Germany have drawn up to 35000 demonstrators in Dresden[89][90] and up to 100,000 nationwide.[91]

Demonstration against Pegida in Cologne on 21 January 2015.
Floodlights of Cologne Cathedral being switched off in protest against a Pegida march on 5 January 2015.
Demonstration against Pegida in Munich, December 22, 2014.

Counterdemonstrations

Reactions

In December 2014, representatives of the NPD encouraged people to participate in Pegida rallies,[85] as did the German Defence League and the Islamophobic internet blog Politically Incorrect in an uploaded 'propaganda clip'.[86] According to the police, a few hundred violent hooligans have been participating in the Dresden rallies since December 2014.[87] The journalist Felix Menzel supports Pegida with his new right youth magazine Blaue Narzisse.[88]

As of January 2015 on Facebook, the Pegida fan page had over 150,000 supporters.[83] According to political consultant Martin Fuchs, the fanpage allows the users there to present emotional content and more easily spread their ideas, which are not represented in the mainstream media.[84]

A group of social scientists led by Dieter Rucht from the Social Science Research Center Berlin (Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung, WZB) collected data both by flyer and online survey. Despite an only 18 percent participatation in the online survey it largely had similar results as the survey form Dresden: According to data of the WZB, PEGIDA was a male-dominated group, participants were mostly employees with a relatively high level of education, they had no confidence in institutions and they sympathized with AfD. In some cases the participants demonstrated far-right and right-wing extremist attitudes. The conclusion emphasised that Pegida supporters cannot be viewed as 'ordinary citizens', since they articulate group-focused enmity and racism.[80][81][82]

Dresden University of Technology (TU) interviewed 400 Pegida demonstrators on 22 December 2014 and 12 January 2015. According to the poll, the main reason of their participation were: dissatisfaction with the political situation (54 percent), "Islam, Islamism and Islamisation” (23 percent), criticism of the media and the public (20 percent), and reservations regarding asylum seekers and migrants (15 percent). In all, 42 percent had reservations regarding Muslims or Islam, 20 percent were concerned about a 'high rate of crimes' committed by asylum seekers or feared socio-economic disadvantages.[78] The author, Vorländer, did not see Pegida as a movement of right-wing extremists, pensioners or the unemployed, but stated that the rallies served as a way to express feelings and resentments against an political and opinion-making elite which have not been publicly articulated before.[79]

In December, Gordian Meyer-Plath, president of the German Defence League or the European Identitarian movement.[76] In a Tagesspiegel interview on 19 January Meyer-Plath reaffirmed that the participant spectrum was very diverse and that there was no evidence of radicalisation.[77]

According to Frank Richter, director of Saxony’s state office for political education, Pegida is "a mixed group—known figures from the National Democratic Party of Germany, soccer hooligans, but also a sizable number of ordinary citizens."[12] Werner Schiffauer, director of the Migration Council has pointed out that the movement is strongest where people have hardly any experience with foreigners, and among “easterners who never really arrived in the Federal Republic and who now feel they have no voice.”[46]

Pegida Participants in Dresden
Date participants per day
October 20, 2014
350
October 27, 2014
500([52])
November 3, 2014
1,000([53])
November 10, 2014
1,700([54])
November 17, 2014
3,200([55])
November 24, 2014
5,500([56])
December 1, 2014
7,500([57])
December 8, 2014
10,000([58])
December 15, 2014
15,000([59])
December 22, 2014
17,500([60][61])
January 5, 2015
18,000([62])
January 12, 2015
25,000([63][64])
January 25, 2015
17,300([65])
February 9, 2015
2,000([66])
February 16, 2015
4,300([67])
February 23, 2015
4,800([68])
March 2, 2015
6,200([69])
March 9, 2015
6,500([70])
March 16, 2015
7,700([71])
March 23, 2014
5,500([72])
March 30, 2015
2,900([73])
April 6, 2015
7,100([74])
April 13, 2015
10,000([75])

Participants and supporters

In February 2015 the 19 positions were enhanced and broken down to the ten "Theses of Dresden".[51]

The State Authority for the Protection of the Constitution (Landesamt für Verfassungsschutz) Thüringen considers Sügida to be steered by right wing nationalists.[50]

Deutsche Welle wrote in December 2014, that Pegida considers Islamism a misogynist and violent ideology.[45][48] In January 2015 the Guardian described Pegida as a far-right movement,[11] the New York Times labeled Pegida as to be anti-immigrant and Angela Merkel had repeatedly questioned "the motives underlying its anti-immigrant message".[11] [49]

Pegida's specific demands were initially unclear, largely because Pegida has refused a dialogue, considering the press to be a politically correct conspiracy.[46] Demonstrators have been observed chanting "Lügenpresse" (liar's press) a term that dates back to World War I[47] and was used in Nazi propaganda.[11]

  1. Approves the right of asylum for war refugees and politically persecuted people.
  2. Advocates the inclusion of the right and duty to integration into the German constitution.
  3. Advocates the decentralised acceptance of refugees and torture victims, instead of often poor quality refugee centres.
  4. Suggests creation of a central refugee agency for a fair allocation of immigrants among countries of the European Union.
  5. Demands a decrease in the number of asylum seekers per social worker from currently 200:1.
  6. Suggests to model German immigration policies after those of the Netherlands and Switzerland and demands an increased budget for the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees to speed up processing of applications.
  7. Demands an increase in funding for the police.
  8. Demands implementation of all asylum laws including expulsion.
  9. Mentions zero tolerance towards criminal refugees and immigrants.
  10. States that Pegida opposes a misogynistic and violent political ideology, but does not oppose assimilated and politically moderate Muslims.[44]
  11. Supports immigration as in Switzerland, Canada, Australia and South Africa.
    Pegida demonstration on 12 January 2015
  12. States that Pegida supports sexual self-determination (opposes "early sexualization of children"[45]).
  13. Argues for the protection of Germany's traditional Judeo-Christian culture.
  14. Supports the introduction of referenda as in Switzerland.
  15. Opposes weapon exports to radical and non-permitted groups, such as the PKK.
  16. Opposes parallel societies and parallel jurisdiction, for example Sharia courts, Sharia police and peace judges.
  17. States that Pegida opposes gender mainstreaming, and political correctness.
  18. Indicates that Pegida opposes any radicalism, whether religious or politically motivated.
  19. Says that Pegida opposes hate speech, regardless of religion.

Pegida:

At the beginning of December 2014, Pegida published an undated and anonymous one-page manifesto of 19 bulleted position statements.[43]

"Putin, hilf uns, rette uns!" ("Putin, help us, save us!") and other slogans on signs and banners

Political positions

At Pegida's anniversary event on 19 October 2015, keynote speaker Akif Pirinçci named the Muslim refugees as invaders, with Germany as becoming a "Muslim garbage dump."[40] Pirinçci said the German government was acting like "Gauleiter against their own people," as they wanted critics of Germany's refugee policy to leave the country. Addressing the crowd shouting "Resistance!", he claimed that "there were other alternatives – but the concentration camps are unfortunately out of order at the moment."[41] The crowd applauded and laughed, and let him continue his speech for another 20 minutes before calling upon him to finish.[42]

On 28 September, two journalists were injured, when Pegida participants kicked a local newspaper reporter and punched another TV reporter in the face.[38] On 12 October, Pegida demonstrators carried a mock gallows showing nooses reserved for Chancellor Angela Merkel and her deputy Sigmar Gabriel.[39]

The European migrant crisis revived the movement, which drew as many as 20,000 supporters to a 19 October rally in Dresden.[35][36] At the same time, observers perceived a further radicalization of the crowd.[37]

Pegida keynote speaker Akif Pirinçci facing charges for incitement to hatred

Resuming protests and radicalization

In June 2015, following the resignation of CDU incumbent Helma Orosz on health grounds, Pegida candidate Tatjana Festerling with support of the NPD ran for the mayoral office of Dresden, polling 9.6% in the first round.[33] On July 7 group leader Bachmann announced that PEGIDA would participate in all future federal elections of Germany.[34]

Dresden mayoral election, 2015

In February 2015 Pegida confirmed on its Facebook page that Lutz Bachmann had been re-elected as chairman by the six other members of the organisation’s leadership committee after the Sächsische Zeitung published a report that the Hitler moustache on the now infamous photo had been added after the photo was taken.[32]

Reinstatement

One week later, on January 28, media spokeswoman Kathrin Oertel resigned as well, citing "the massive hostility, threats and career disadvantages" as the reason.[29] At the same time four other leading figures of Pegida stepped back.[30] February 2, 2015 Oertel and six other former Pegida members founded 'Direkte Demokratie für Europa' (direct democracy for Europe) to distance [themselves] from the far-right tendencies of Pegida".[31]

On 21 January 2015, Bachmann resigned from his responsibilities with PEGIDA after coming under fire for a number of Facebook posts.[24] Excerpts from a closed Facebook conversation incriminated Bachmann as having designated immigrants as "animals", "scumbags"[25] and "trash",[26] classified as Ku Klux Klan accompanied by the slogan: "Three Ks a day keeps the minorities away."[24] The Dresden state prosecutors opened an investigation for suspected Volksverhetzung (incitement), Deputy Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said the real face of PEGIDA had been exposed: "Anyone who puts on a Hitler disguise is either an idiot or a Nazi. People should think carefully about running after a Pied Piper like this."[27]

PEGIDA's founder and leader Lutz Bachmann dressed as Adolf Hitler, which he says was doctored

Resignations

Dresden police did not permit the demonstration planned for the 19 January 2015 due to a definite threat against one of Pegida's leadership members, that was interpreted as to be an Arabic-language Tweet labeling Pegida as an "enemy of Islam".[15] Pegida cancelled its 13th demonstration and stated in a post on its Facebook page that there was an explicit threat against a leadership member and "his execution had been ordered by ISIS terrorists".[22] Nonetheless, the Pegida demonstrations resumed in full force in the summer and autumn of 2015, with 10 000 demonstrators attending a rally in September.[23]

[21] One week later police investigations led to the arrest of one of the victim's Eritrean housemates.[20] On 15 January 2015 a young

On 12 January 2015 Pegida organizers exercised their right to do the same in front of an audience of some 25,000 participants. Facing growing opposition by anti-Pegida protesters, both in Dresden and law and order politics on the one hand but anti-EU sentiments and calls for a reconciliation with Russia on the other.[19]

While the demonstration on 29 December 2014 was cancelled by the organizers, the movement continued to draw large numbers of participants in early January 2015. After the Charlie Hebdo shooting on 7 January 2015 in Paris politicians including German ministers Thomas de Maiziere and Heiko Maas, warned Pegida against misusing the attack on Charlie Hebdo for its own political means. On Saturday January 10, 2015 some 35,000[18] Anti-Pegida protesters gathered to mourn the victims of Paris, holding a minute's silence in front of the Frauenkirche.

Pegida demonstration on 12 January 2015 after the Charlie Hebdo shooting

Aftermath of Charlie Hebdo and rising tensions

[17]

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