Wed. Feb 28th, 2024

Germany: hundreds of thousands of people march against the far right

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Demonstration against racism and far-right politicians in front of the Reichstag building, in Berlin, Sunday January 21, 2024.

Agence France-Presse

Hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated in Germany on Sunday against the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party and its radical ideology, which has sparked mobilization on a rare scale for a week. /p>

Around a hundred demonstrations have taken place since Friday across the country, bringing together more than 1.4 million people, according to the organization Friday for Future and the citizens' alliance Campact, which are among the organizers of the movement.

The influx was such in Munich that the planned march in the streets of the Bavarian capital had to be interrupted. Police estimated the crowd at 100,000 people, the largest gathering to date.

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In Munich, 50,000 people mobilized, twice as many as the expected number, according to the organizers.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">In the processions, some brandished signs The Nazis, Out or Never Again, it's now.

Some 250,000 people had already gathered on Saturday in dozens of cities across the country, according to estimates by the ARD channel. In Frankfurt, the center of German finance, 35,000 people marched to defend democracy.

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Calls to gather on Sunday were launched in around forty cities such as Berlin, Munich or Bonn as well as in more modest localities. In Dresden, capital of the state of Saxony, a stronghold of the anti-migrant and anti-system Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, a demonstration was also organized.

In Cologne, organizers estimated the crowd at 70,000 on Sunday, while in Bremen, local police counted 45,000 demonstrators in the center.

This mobilization reflects the shock caused by the revelation, on January 10 by the German investigative media Correctiv, of a meeting of extremists in Potsdam, near of Berlin, where, last November, a plan for mass expulsion of foreigners or people of foreign origin was discussed.

Interior Minister Nancy Faeser went so far as to claim in the press that this meeting was reminiscent of the horrible Wannsee conference , where the Nazis planned the extermination of European Jews in January 1942.

Among the participants were a figure of the radical identity movement, the Austrian Martin Sellner, as well as members of the AfD.

Martin Sellner presented a project to send back to North Africa up to two million people – asylum seekers, foreigners and German citizens who would not be assimilated –, says Correctiv.

This revelation shook Germany as the AfD continues to progress in the polls a few months before three important regional elections in the east of the country, where voting intentions for this party x27;far right are even higher than in the rest of the country.

The anti-immigration movement confirmed the presence of its members at the meeting but denied joining the remigration project led by Martin Sellner.

Many political leaders, including Social Democratic Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who participated in a demonstration last weekend, have stressed that any plan to expel people of foreign origin is an attack on democracy. /p>

Mr. Scholz called on everyone to take a stand for cohesion, for tolerance, for our democratic Germany.

The Republic is rising, commented l' weeklySpiegelon its website after Saturday’s rallies. Anti-AfD demonstrations have taken on a daily rhythm for a week. From Friday to Sunday, around a hundred rallies were planned.

Political leaders, religious representatives and coaches from the Bundesliga, the German football championship, have called on the population to mobilize against this party, currently at its highest in voting intentions.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Sunday that the demonstrators gave us all courage. They are defending our republic and our constitution against their enemies, he said in a video message.

In recent months, the AfD has taken advantage of the population's feeling of dissatisfaction, which results from a new influx of migrants into the country and the ongoing quarrels between the three parties in the government coalition, and this, in a context of economic recession and high inflation.

This far-right formation, which entered Parliament in 2017, has firmly established itself in second position in voting intentions (around 22%) behind the conservatives, while the government coalition of Olaf Scholz with the ecologists and the liberals faces record unpopularity. /p>

In its strongholds in the former GDR, the AfD even tops opinion polls with more than 30 %.

Six months before the European elections, several EU countries are grappling with a surge of the far right which could upset the major balances of the European Parliament.

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