World Bulletin / News Desk
German politicians adopted a stronger rhetorical stance against the far-right PEGIDA movement Tuesday following the group’s first anniversary rallies.
Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel warned group was becoming increasingly radical.
“PEGIDA has become a right-wing populist movement and with some parts visibly a right-wing extremist movement,” he told the Suddeutsche Zeitung newspaper on Tuesday. “PEGIDA has become a reservoir for racist xenophobia.”
Gabriel said the group was using Nazi rhetoric and questioning the basic principles of democracy.
Volker Kauder, the Christian Democrats’ parliamentary group leader, told the Passauer Neuen Pressed daily that Germany needed to be resolute against hate speech and violence.
Yasmin Fahimi, secretary general of the Social Democrats, called on police and intelligence agencies to closely monitor right-wing elements within PEGIDA.
PEGIDA - Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West - marked its first year with a major rally in Dresden on Monday, where around 15,000 protesters chanted slogans against refugees and Muslim immigrants.
Akif Pirincci, an ethnic Turkish-German writer portrayed as a critic of Islam in the German media, spoke at the demonstration and referred to refugees as “invaders” and warned Germany would become a “Muslim garbage dump” if the flow of refugees was not stopped.
“There would be other alternatives, of course… but the concentration camps are unfortunately out of service in these days,” he told the crowd.
On Tuesday, Dresden’s public prosecutor announced an incitement investigation into his speech.
Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere described the group as “hardcore far-right extremists” at the weekend and called for a boycott of its events.
The rise of PEGIDA has mirrored a large increase in the number of refugees entering Germany. A record 577,000 asylum seekers came to Germany between January and September and the authorities are expecting to receive around 1 million asylum seekers this year.