Thousands of Germans took part in counter-demonstrations in several cities on Monday to combat what they see as the growing tide of anti-Muslim racism in Europe, particularly as weekly “pinstriped Nazi” marches continue to attract supporters.
Rallies promoting peace and tolerance were held in Dresden—where the weekly far-right protests, organized by a group that calls itself the Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West (Pegida), have been taking place since October—as well as in Berlin, Cologne, Stuttgart, Muenster, and Hamburg.
As EuroNews reports:
Many businesses and organizations showed their solidarity with the anti-Pegida rallies by turning the lights off in their facilities. Among them was the Cologne Cathedral, which received cheers of support when it plunged into darkness Monday night, towering over the marches below.
Cologne Cathedral provost Norbert Feldhoff told N-TV that the move was meant to send the message to Pegida’s anti-Muslim protesters that “You’re taking part in an action that, from its roots and also from speeches, one can see is Nazi-ist, racist and extremist. And you’re supporting people you really don’t want to support.”
“We don’t think of it as a protest, but we would like to make the many conservative Christians [who support Pegida] think about what they are doing,” Feldhoff told BBC.
“Today, there is really a democratic sign being sent and a lot of people in Cologne are expressing their opinion,” said Cologne mayor Juergen Roters. “They want to stress that we here in Cologne do not want to have anything to do with right-wing extremists and xenophobic people.”