Far-right group Pegida holds ‘Islamisation’ protest, using slogan from 1989 campaign against East German government

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Pegida supporters, seen here in Dresden, include neo-Nazi elements as well as ordinary Germans with concerns about immigration. Photograph: Jens Meyer/AP

Its members have been dubbed the “pinstriped Nazis” and they refer to their demonstrations as “evening strolls” through German cities. But on Monday night, an estimated 15,000 people joined Pegida, or Patriotic Europeans Against Islamisation of the West, in a march through Dresden carrying banners bearing slogans such as “Zero tolerance towards criminal asylum seekers”, “Protect our homeland” and “Stop the Islamisation”.

Lutz Bachmann, the head of Pegida, a nascent anti-foreigner campaign group, led the crowds, either waving or draped in German flags, in barking chants of “Wir sind das Volk”, or “We are the people”, the slogan adopted by protesters in the historic “Monday demonstrations” against the East German government in the runup to the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Associating themselves with the freedom demonstrations has given Pegida protests an air of moral respectability even though there are hundreds of rightwing extremists in their midst, as well as established groups of hooligans who are known to the police, according to Germany’s federal office for the protection of the constitution.

The instigators are unmistakably rightwing extremists,” a federal spokesman said.

It was the ninth week in a row that Pegida had taken its protest on to the city’s streets in the eastern German state of Saxony.

Written by Kate Connolly
Read more at The Guardian

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