Saturday marched against hate and racism in the city of Dresden, eastern Germany
a week before state elections when far-right party AfD is projected to make
banner reading “indivisible”, a broad coalition of artists, unionists and
politicians gathered to urge voters to reject exclusion, which they argue is
championed by right-wing extremists.
three-hour march began in a relaxed atmosphere under the warm summer sun in the
picturesque baroque city, one of the most popular tourism destinations in the
former communist east.
is also the cradle of the Islamophobic movement Pegida, and the state of Saxony
is a stronghold of the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany party.
Many at the
protest held aloft signs that read: “No place for Nazis” and “Racism is not an
spokeswoman for the organisers, Susann Riske, said: “We want to do something
against the current political climate and support those who oppose hatred and
violence every day.”
march started, organisers said they expected at least 10,000 people to turn up
at the protest, while about 70km away, the co-leader of the AfD Alexander
Gauland was due to address a rally in the city of Chemnitz.
candidate in the Saxony election, Nico Koehler, on Saturday denied his party is
racist, calling such charges “propaganda designed to get left-wing parties into
the state assembly”.
called on other parties to enter into dialogue with the AfD.
starts with interpersonal dialogue … even with those you consider the enemy,”
he said at a campaign stall in Chemnitz.
show the AfD party running neck and neck with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s
CDU party in Saxony.
In the state
of Brandenburg, the region surrounding Berlin, some surveys even see the AfD
topping the polls, which would be a major blow for Merkel’s junior coalition
partners, the Social Democrats (SPD).
If a strong
showing by the AfD is confirmed in both regional polls, it could throw Merkel’s
coalition into a new crisis by potentially heightening calls for the SPD to
pull the plug on the partnership.
organisers of Saturday’s march, the regional elections, together with October
27 polls in the state of Thuringia, will be the “moment of truth for
banner #indivisible, the collective of activists managed to get a quarter of a
million people on the streets in Berlin last October to defend inclusion and
was organised with Germany still shocked by xenophobic attacks in a Saxony
city, Chemnitz, in the aftermath of the stabbing of a German by a migrant.
politicians then also joined in a silent march through Chemnitz alongside the
head of Pegida, as well as neo-Nazis and other hooligans.
entry into the Bundestag after the 2017 general election, the far-right AfD has
shaken up German politics, including breaching taboos such as openly
questioning Germany’s atonement culture over World War II.
anti-immigrant and anti-Islam rhetoric has proved attractive to those resentful
of Merkel’s decision to let in more than a million asylum seekers since the
2015 refugee crisis.
communist east has been most receptive to the AfD, with part of the population
feeling left behind economically as villages are depleted of younger
inhabitants, many of whom have headed to western Germany for better paying jobs
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