After the attack on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and the three days of terror in Paris there are many political movements that insist on radical statements against what they call the ‘Islamisation of the West’. In Germany the movement [1] Pegida (Patriotische Europäer gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes) is taking advantage[ 2] of the events of the last few days to gather political credibility and confirm its presence on the political scene. Nevertheless, in the last few weeks it obtained the support [3] of different political parties from the extreme right such as AfD (Alternative für Deutschland) and NPD (Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands).

Pegida says on Facebook: ‘As Pegida warned twelve weeks ago, Muslims have shown today that they are not able to accept democracy and only consider violence and death as solutions. Our politicians want to make us believe differently. Is there the need of such a tragedy to happen in Germany?’

The new personality [4] of Pegida is Kathrin Oertel, a young woman of 36 years, who doesn’t like to talk about herself. For several weeks she has been the voice of the movement and she refuses to give interviews to the press. However we know she is an eminent figure inside the organization of the movement, together with another dozen people. Pegida organized a few marches in Dresden in the last few weeks. During one of these marches, on the 5th of January, Oertel took the stage and accused German politicians of limiting the freedom of expression of all the people who take part in supporting Pegida.

According to the German press, the members of Pegida have actually been friends for years and most of them come from the Dresden area, the Southeast region of the old East Germany where they grew up. Last December on the 19th they founded together the association Pegida. Like the other participants of the movement, Oertel claims the right to speak against the prevailing taboos of our society and on her Facebook page she shows likes to pages such as ‘Courage of truth’ or ‘Exit from Nato’ or ‘Against the abuse of asylum’. She has recently expressed herself decisively against what she calls the ‘factory of asylum’ (Asylindustrie).

With the recent events in Paris, some politicians such as Alexander Gauland, leader of Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), have seen in the attack on Charlie Hebdo journalists the justification of anti-Islam movements such as Pegida. Gauland states: ‘All people, who have scorned or ignored the concerns of other people regarding the threat of Islam so far, have been punished today with this massacre’. For this reason, according to Gauland, all the national parties should ask themselves whether they want to maintain this position of indifference and continue to defame the participants of Pegida or start considering unavoidable issues.

Moreover, the leaders of the neo-Nazi party (NPD) sustain Pegida. The NPD Facebook page states that the existence of movements like Pegida shouldn’t be a surprise in this context since contemporary society is going towards an expansion of Islamisation. The party leader, Frank Franz believes that it is important to continue to engage in movements like Pegida.

Meanwhile, the movement has called for a new march in Dresden and another one has been planned for the 2nd of February in Vienna, [5] following the success of the last rally which counted 18,000 people.

If, on the one hand, movements like Pegida seems to grow and receive bigger support from public opinion, on the other hand, there are movements like ‘Dresden is for all of us’, which challenge this kind of thinking. They have also called for a new rally and written on Facebook: ‘We condemn the terror, as well as the Islamophobia, which plays on these kinds of events to make people hate foreigners [behind their backs]’. Also, the collective ‘Anonymous’ announced [6] that they will carry out their attacks against Pegida and its websites.

 

Sources:

1. http://www.internazionale.it/video/2015/01/13/la-marcia-contro-l-islam-a-dresda
2. http://www.spiegel.de/politik/deutschland/charlie-hebdo-afd-und-npd-unterstuetzen-pegida-a-1011808.html
3. http://www.wiwo.de/politik/deutschland/unklarheit-nach-treffen-zusammenarbeit-zwischen-afd-und-pegida/11202098.html
4. http://www.spiegel.de/politik/deutschland/pegida-proteste-in-dresden-die-schoene-schweigsame-a-1011395.html#ref=veeseoartikel
5. http://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/pegida-will-jetzt-auch-in-wien-demonstrieren-a-1012006.html
6. http://www.spiegel.de/netzwelt/netzpolitik/pegida-anonymous-anhaenger-nehmen-websites-ins-visier-a-1011954.html