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German anti-Islam group Pegida presents six-point plan on immigration rules

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

German anti-Islam group Pegida has presented a six-point plan demanding clear immigration rules, an end to “absurd” EU controls and direct democracy in Germany through referenda.

At their 12th Monday-night march, with emotions running high after last week’s Paris shootings, an estimated 20,000 people marched with Pegida through Dresden as anti-Pegida groups staged sit-down blockades.

In Leipzig, meanwhile, the first march by a sister organisation of Pegida was drowned out by 30,000 demonstrators. As chancellor Angela Merkel said in Berlin that Islam “was a part of Germany”, Pegida in Dresden dismissed that call by renewing their warning of the supposed “Islamisation” of Europe, through Islamist violence and unchecked immigration.

Paris justification

“We’ve been laughed at and defamed . . . but Paris is just another reason to justify the existence of Pegida,” said Lutz Bachmann, head of the grassroots organisation. “We’ve stirred up quite a lot of dust and woken up quite a few people, putting issues on the table previously . . . only decided over people’s heads.”

For the first time Pegida presented political demands including concrete legislation to steer migration; greater police spending; and the deportation of Islamists “who turn their backs on this country to fight in holy wars” and other criminal foreigners.

Mr Bachmann, an advertising and computer specialist with several criminal convictions, called for direct democracy at federal level in Germany through referenda.

Finally, he called for an end to “vilification of Russia” and a halt to national parliaments’ loss of power to “absurd” EU control in Brussels.

He challenged journalists in the crowd to “write whatever you want about us . . . we won’t set fire to your editorial offices or commit murder”.

As laughter echoed through the crowd, the Pegida leader called for a minute’s silence to remember “all victims of religious fanaticism in this world”.

This week’s march was occasionally halted as left-wing groups staged protests, chanting: “We’re sick of you Pegida gang” and “Expel nationalism from people’s heads”.

Large numbers of police kept apart the two camps. Between the two fronts, ordinary Dresdners looked on with horrified fascination.

“I think Pegida’s plan is to attract as many people as they can now, with what sounds like reasonable demands, before revealing their true agenda,” said Mr Wolfgang Bittner, a 65-year-old local.

The Irish Times

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