Friday, January 9, 2015

Thousands in German Rally Against the Islamization of Europe

Defying appeals from an array of German institutions, anti-immigrant marchers again took to the streets Monday, parading their stated fear of Europe’s Islamization along with their emergence as a force of thousands of protesters commanding national attention.
The protesters, rallied by a murky movement known as PEGIDA, a German acronym for Patriotic Europeans Against Islamization of the West, gathered in a cold rain to show their disapproval for the influx of refugees who have flooded Europe, largely from wars and upheaval in the Middle East and Africa.
The anti-immigration demonstration in Dresden drew some 18,000 people Monday, police said. The group’s protests have been growing from an initial few hundred in October to around 17,500 at a rally just before Christmas.
In recent years, however, the Germans have offered asylum liberally, beginning with refugees of the Balkan wars in the early 1990s. The Nazi past is often cited as a reason to roll out the welcome mat, but that has worn thin in recent months because of an influx of about 200,000 asylum seekers last year — four times the total for 2012 — and the strain of housing so many people.
Dresden’s demonstrators insist they are not against asylum or refugees, but they resent abuse of the system and helping “economic refugees” whom the anti-immigrant camp sees as either threatening German jobs or mooching off Germany’s generous welfare system.
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