Pegida faces test after scandal

2015-10-26 19:01
Lutz Bachmann speaks during a Pegida demonstration in Dresden. (AP)

Lutz Bachmann speaks during a Pegida demonstration in Dresden. (AP)

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Berlin - Germany's anti-foreigner movement is planning to hold a rally on Monday that will be new test of the organization's strength after it was rocked by scandal a week ago that led to concerns of its radicalisation.

From 15 000 to 20 000 protesters took part in last week's anti-foreigner and anti-refugee rally in the eastern German city of Dresden, which was organized by Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West, or Pegida.

In an address at that rally, a speaker lamented the closure of concentration camps, saying politicians have turned on the German people and effectively have told them to get out if they don't like the country's policies.

Given that stance, the speaker said, leaders could just as well put the German people into the camps.

"Of course, there are other alternatives, but the concentration camps are unfortunately out of service," German-Turkish writer Akif Pirincci said in a speech in which he also lashed out at Muslims and refugees.

Pegida co-founder Lutz Bachmann later apologised for Pirincci's remarks on his Facebook page.

However, a week earlier, Pegida protesters erected a mock gallows that were marked "reserved" for Chancellor Angela Merkel and Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, reflecting Pegida supporters' anger at the government's liberal refugee policies.

Pegida, which has regularly mounted rallies on Monday nights in Dresden for a year, almost disappeared from German political life because of a series of scandals and resignations by its key leaders.

They included a photo appearing of Bachmann posing as Hitler, complete with the Nazi leader's moustache.

But the group has seen their support rise since the number of asylum seekers entering Germany has surged.

Pegida opponents are also expected to turn out in force on Monday. Last week, about 14 000 people protested against Pegida.

Read more on:    germany  |  refugees

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