The protests are part of a burgeoning grassroots movement calling for an end to the spread of Islamic Sharia law in Germany.
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By Soeren Kern, Sun, December 14, 2014 Der Spiegel
Thousands of German citizens have been taking to the streets to protest the growing “Islamization” of their country.
The protests are part of a burgeoning grassroots movement made up of ordinary citizens who are calling for an end to runaway immigration and the spread of Islamic Sharia law in Germany.
The guardians of German multiculturalism are fighting back: they are seeking to delegitimize the protesters by branding them as “neo-Nazis” and by claiming that the Islamization of Germany is a myth contrived by misinformed citizens.
But there is a mounting public backlash over what many perceive as the government’s indifference to the growing influence of Islam in German society. This backlash represents a potentially significant turning point—one that implies that the days of unrestrained German multiculturalism may be coming to an end.
The latest protest took place in the eastern German city of Dresden on December 8, when more than 10,000 people defied freezing temperatures to express their displeasure with Germany’s lenient asylum policies.
Germany—which is facing an unprecedented influx of asylum seekers, including many from Muslim countries—is now the second most popular destination in the world for migrants, after the United States.
The Dresden protest was organized by a new citizens initiative, “Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West,” better known by its German abbreviation, PEGIDA, short for “Patriotische Europäer gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes.”
PEGIDA, which has been organizing so-called “evening walks” (Abendspaziergang) through downtown Dresden every Monday evening since October, has seen the number of protesters increase exponentially from week to week.
Similar anti-Islamization protests have been held in the western German cities of Hannover, Kassel and Düsseldorf, where 400 people showed up on December 8 for demonstration organized by a PEGIDA offshoot, named DÜGIDA.
These protests are similar to, but separate from, other mass demonstrations organized in Cologne and other German cities by a group called Hooligans against Salafists, or HoGeSa.
PEGIDA was launched by Lutz Bachmann, a 41-year-old Dresden native with no background in politics, after government officials in the eastern German state of Saxony announced that they would be opening more than a dozen new shelters to house some 2,000 refugees.
Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute. He is also Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group. Follow him on Facebook. Follow him on Twitter.
This article appeared originally on GatestoneInstitute.org
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