The encounter (none of those involved wished to give their names) occurred at the sidelines of a recent rally organised by Pegida, or Patriotische Europäer gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes (Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the west), a populist anti-immigrant movement that has been galvanising support in Germany for several months but has convulsed the city of Dresden in particular. Having begun on Facebook, on Monday it will hold its 11th demonstration in the baroque city and it is estimated that more than 20,000 will attend.
As the movement spreads across Germany and even into other parts of Europe – Sweden, Austria and Switzerland – politicians of the country’s mainstream parties are on alert.
Monday’s Pegida demonstration will be extremely closely observed, by everyone from constitutional experts to sociologists and experts in neo-Nazism. The questions most frequently addressed are what has prompted Pegida and how it can be dealt with. To condemn it means potentially isolating voters and fuelling the movement even more. But to ignore what is after all still a fledgling movement with no mandate seems too perilous a position for German politicians duty-bound to keep in mind the country’s Nazi past.
This is an understandable outcome of imperialism – the devastation of former “colonies” in Africa, India, and the Middle East. It is interesting to watch fairly recent television shows from Sweden, Denmark, France, and Germany – growing tensions with new arrivals are often portrayed in crime dramas. Sometimes the portrayals of the brown-skinned mostly Muslim immigrants are contextualized, but mostly they’re portrayed as potential terrorists – a handy scapegoat to blame for economic hard times and austerity.
You nailed it, Carol. Great comment! Economic hard times brings out the worst in people. Xenophobia, bigotry, and racism are predictable responses to deepening social insecurity. Even worse is the exploitation of this primal fear by opportunists seeking political or financial gain.
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