Europeans, off to the streets! BBC News Europe
Dresden marches against anti-Islamist Pegida

The tradition of Monday demonstrations in Germany dates back to the times of the German Democratic Republic. In 1989-1990, Monday demonstrations played a significant role in the civil resistance to the political regime of the GDR. In December 2014 this tradition was brought back to life in Dresden, Saxony, but this time the crowd was heard shouting the slogan “We are the people!” (Wir sind das Volk!) which follows completely different aims than the freedom fighters of the late 80’s. PEGIDA – a new word in the German vocabulary sends us back to the Germany of the 1930’s. Discover more in the article by Jonas Botta from our partner organisation

For several weeks now, more and more people have been taking to the streets of Dresden to protest against the so-called “islamists” and alleged “economic refugees”. They call themselves “Patriotic Europeans” – but how European is their mindset in reality?

Streets full of persuaded Europeans with strong political interests? That should be considered a pretty successful outcome of the year in which even the European elections failed to engage large numbers of  people in dialogue about the future of Europe. Barely anyone could imagine that more than ten thousand people in Germany identifying themselves as “Europeans” would protest for their interests. But what is their goal? What are their motives? Is it a move of solidarity with the unemployed youth of Spain and Greece? Do they strike against the planned TTIP’s free trade agreement or ask for Europe-wide energy transition?

The blind hatred

 No, these putative Europeans have completely different motives. Under the name “Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West” (PEGIDA) in Dresden, they transform their own existential fears into blind hatred against so-called “islamists” and “economic refugees”. By calling themselves Europeans they are drawing the line between themselves and their abstract enemy. For them Europe means an antithesis to the Muslim world. Their Europe is a mysterious Christian Western world, which they are intended to protect. They are not cosmopolitan nor are they interested in an intercultural dialogue. Presenting a different image of their self-conception is in vain. Apart from the obvious racist mindset, the statements made by PEGIDA supporters in what they themselves vilify as the “lying press” (Lügenpresse) leave even more questions to the audience.

 The protesters don’t stand for our Europe

One thing regarding this new right-wing movement should be be clear to all mature citizens who identify themselves as Europeans and therefore as opponents of any kind of exclusive thought. These protesters don’t stand for our Europe. Their outdated and transfigured image of the world in which Europe is just an empty word only serves those who try to come to power by exploiting the fears of others.  Admittedly, it surely is no coincidence that this new form of racist protests turned out to be particularly strong in Dresden, since 27,861 voters in this constituency voted for parties like the NPD and AfD. Therefore, more progressive Europeans have to clearly raise their voices against this movement. Understanding won’t help here. Instead, we have to fight together for a Europe, where all  religions and people are welcome.  

Therefore, Europeans, off to the streets!

Edited by: Dina Rokic

This article was originally published at

Author: Jonas Botta

Translated from German by Hanna Starchyk