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31 Dec, 2014

Islamophobia on the rise in Germany

ANKARA, December 26, 2014 (Anadolu Agency) – Since 17,500 Germans stood in front of the Dresden City Opera House on Monday chanting, “No more lies. We are the people,” it has become clear that the far right is again on the rise in Germany.

The Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the Occident group has organized ten such demonstrations, and this was the largest so far.

The far right organization’s leader Lutz Bachmann has built a considerable following since October when he started with a protest against building refugee centers in Dresden.

On Monday, he shouted to a cheering crowd: “This is not a land of immigration.”

Demonstrations of this kind have spread throughout the country this year, to the point that anti-extremist activists at the Berlin Against Nazis organization have created an smartphone app to track them, the so-called “Anti-Nazi app.”

“The people who participate in these demonstrations do not consider themselves extremists, but rather ordinary middle class citizens,” German psychologist Oliver Decker of the University of Leipzig said in an interview on Monday with the German business newspaper Wirtschaftswoche. “They see Islam as a danger and a target, as there is considerable fear of the country’s immigration policies.”

Decker is one of the authors of a study by his university, released in June, that actually shows far right extremist attitudes have declined across the country.

“However, the downside is that certain groups of immigrants and migrants are more clearly discriminated against,” said Decker.

One of these groups is Islamic immigrants.

“In recent years, Islamophobia as a modern form of xenophobia has become increasingly important as a field of action for the right-wing extremist scene,” the German Office for the Protection of the Constitution said in a statement on its website. “Right-wing extremists try to arouse the population’s fear of foreign domination.”

Bachmann himself is a 41-year-old former advertising salesman. He told the German newspaper Bild-Zeitung that he is not against Islam itself, but rather the “Islamization” of his country. Nonetheless, there has been a 20.4 percent increase in attacks on foreigners in 2014, according to the German Interior Ministry’s announcement on June 4.

There have been a number of counter-demonstrations spurred by anti-racism organizations like the one in Berlin.

About 4,500 people marched through Dresden on Monday, carrying banners reading: “Nazi-free.”

Similar demonstrations against the Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the Occident group took place in Munich, with at least 12,000 people participating.

In Bonn, several hundreds of counter-demonstrators faced off with rallying members of anti-immigration group Bonn Against Islamism, prompting police intervention.

Underlying this rise of the far right, is a basic need, says political scientist Albrecht von Lucke.

“These people feel that no one pays attention to them, that they are not heard,” he said.

German mosque vandalized with swastikas and racist graffiti

Berlin (IINA), Tuesday 23 Dec 2014 – A mosque under construction in the northwestern German town of Dormagen has been spray-painted with swastikas and racist slogans. The act of vandalism comes as anti-Islamic demonstrations continue to grow across Germany.

The perpetrators are reported to have entered the building site early Sunday morning. Apart from the symbol associated to Nazis, the vandals also wrote slurs such as “off with you to the concentration camp!”

The attack on the mosque has coincided with the rise of the controversial “anti-Islamization” PEGIDA movement in Germany. The group has been holding demonstrations in cities throughout the country for the past 10 weeks.

Head of Neuss district police, Hans-Jurgen Petrauschke said he was horrified by the racially motivated crime. There is “no place for the spread of xenophobia or the glorification of the Nazi past” in the Rhein-Kreis Neuss area,” he told reporters.

State security from Dusseldorf have begun an investigation into the crime and have also announced a reward of 1,500 euros ($1,833) for information leading to the arrest of the vandals.

German FM rejects practices of anti-Muslim movement

Berlin (IINA) Wednesday 24 Dec 2014 – German Foreign Minister has rejected the practices of the Patriotic Europeans Against Islamization of the West (PEGIDA) movement, which promotes violence against Muslims and foreigners in Germany.
Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Tuesday that “the overwhelming majority of Germans believe that people should find refuge with us due to the civil war.”

He said: “Now sympathy and solidarity is needed.” He added “it is important that we stand up for open society with conviction, passion and reason.”

One of the reasons why people participated in the demonstrations organized by PEGIDA, the foreign minister said, “Yes, I can understand that the disorder in the world makes many people scared. But the answer cannot be isolation and incitement.”

In Dresden, police said on Monday around 17,500 people participated in demonstrations initiated by PEGIDA against foreigners and “Islamization of the West”. Meanwhile, the same city saw counter demonstration involved about 4,500 people, who raised anti-Nazis slogans, warning at the same time against racism and xenophobia in the country.

Also, more than 20,000 people took to streets in several German cities in protests against the PEGIDA movement.