Germany braced for weekly anti-Islam march

Some 35,000 Dresdners turn out in protest against Pegida claim of creeping ‘Islamisation’

German justice minister Heiko Maas  takes part in a demonstration to protest against a rally by  right-wing populist movement Pegida. Photograph:  Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty Images

German justice minister Heiko Maas takes part in a demonstration to protest against a rally by right-wing populist movement Pegida. Photograph: Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty Images

 

As Germany looks nervously ahead to the latest Monday evening Pegida march, the first since last week’s Paris attacks, some 35,000 Dresdners turned out at the weekend in protest against the organisation’s claim of creeping “Islamisation” in Europe.

Police in Hamburg are questioning two men after an arson attack on a newspaper that reprinted Charlie Hebdo caricatures, while thousands turned out in Berlin and Munich in parallel to the silent march in Paris.

The Paris attacks have fired up the emotional debate in Germany over Pegida and its warnings about violent Islam.

After growing exponentially in recent weeks, Pegida organisers hope to beat last week’s record of 18,000 marchers for its latest Monday evening march and has urged demonstrators to bring funeral wreaths in honour of the Paris victims.

Germany’s justice minister called that “hypocritical” given that, a week ago, demonstrators strode through Dresden chanting “Lügenpresse” – lying press – in retaliation at unflattering Pegida reports. “If these organisations had a shred of decency they would simply call off their demonstrations,” said Heiko Maas.

‘Tolerant and humane’

Stanislaw Tillich

“There’s no sense talking to those who polemicise against everything foreign,” he said, after rejecting an invitation by Pegida to address their marchers.

Many of the Dresdners at Saturday’s demonstration said they would be on the streets again on Monday evening to show their disgust at Pegida. “We’re not all like this in Dresden,” said Sandra Kaiser (32).

Meanwhile, Hamburg police said that “unknown assailants” broke a window at the Hamburger Morgenpost newspaper early on Sunday morning and threw at least one incendiary device inside.

The newspaper’s archives were damaged but no employees were there at the time. Police intercepted two men, aged 35 and 39, near the scene and are questioning them.