A Balancing Act

Below is an interesting article about the doings of the German organization Pax Europa, from an outsider’s perspective. It includes some of the usual “they are racists, Nazis, etc.” themes, but all in all, it’s a fairly balanced article, especially given that it was published in the print edition of Anti-Fascist News (as mentioned in Antifa Infoblatt).

The author is unknown. Many thanks to JLH for the translation:

Think Tank of “Islamic Criticism”
Bürgerbewegung (Citizens’ Movement) Pax Europa

Pax EuropaMeasures against “Islam” and against Muslims are on the rise in (West) Europe. In Germany, too, anti-Muslim racism is on the march, as shown by the “integration debate” instigated by Thilo Sarrazin and seized upon appreciatively by media and politics. A group which attracts less attention but is encountered repeatedly in the milieu of the so-called “Islam critics” surrounding the web site PI News, the “PRO” citizen movements and the newly founded party “Die Freiheit.,” is the “Bürgerbewegung Pax Europa” (BPE).

Racists as Motto-Makers

The BPE, in its own words, stands up for “European values and freedoms,” the “preservation of the Christian-Jewish tradition” and “European culture” as well as “against Islamization.” It was founded in May 2008 in the confines of the Würzburg diocese, as a merger of the organizations “Pax Europa” and “Association of Citizen Movements” (BDB) Its base is in Wetzlar, and its membership, by its own count, is about 800. Chair at present is Willi Schwend, a contractor from the Baden-Württemberg area of Wertheim and leader of BDB before the merger. Schwend was spokesman for a citizen’s initiative against the building of a mosque planned in Wertheim.

The predecessor organization, Pax Europa, was founded in Königswinter in December 2006. At the first regular meeting in June 2007 in Bonn the author Udo Ulfkotte was elected to the board. He left the BPE at the end of 2008 because of its “increasingly extremist course.” He referred to post card motifs which portrayed Muslims as pigs, pedophiles and terrorists. This need to distance himself is astonishing, since Ulfkotte designated female immigrants “destroyers of welfare,” demanded “repatriation officials instead of integration officials” and predicted that “possibly […] soon not only election posters will be hanging on lampposts.”

Besides Ulfkotte at the Bonn meeting, Rainer Glagow was elected a member of the board. The Islam scholar, who died in July, 2010, was vice-director of the German Oriental Institute in Hamburg and — until 2006 — head of the Berlin Capitol Office of the Hanns-Seidel Foundation, closely connected to the CSU. With such allies, the political influence of the BPE should not be underestimated. Evidence of this is that Ulfkotte and Schwend boasted, in a message to the membership in April 2008, that the CSU fraction in the Bavarian legislature had “with our help” written a position paper that “corresponds in almost all parts with the published positions of Pax Europa and BDB.”

Another prominent member of the BPE is Rainer Grell, former undersecretary in the interior ministry in Baden-Württemberg, and head of the of the division on citizenship law. Grell conceived the “Conversation Guide for those Wishing Naturalization,” which was known throughout the Federal Republic as a “Muslim test.”

Between Citizenship and Hate Speech

The BPE is regularly in the public eye with speeches and rallies; for instance, on Potsdamer Platz, Berlin an October 3, 2010, under the title “For Democracy and Human Rights — against Ideologies Inimical to Freedom.” On this occasion, the Austrian Islam critic, Elisabeth, Sabaditsch-Wolff appeared, against whom judicial inquiry for hate speech (similar to hate speech in Germany) was pending. The BPE member has attracted attention with comments like “Muslims kill or rape children because of religion” or “we are lied to by Muslims every day, because it is their religious duty.” Sabaditsch-Wolff appeared frequently for the BPE at meetings of the OSCE as a “representative of civil society.” She traveled to the meetings on the ticket of the “International Civil Liberties Alliance (ICLA).” The ICLA is a virtual network of so-called “Islam critics” from Europe and the United States. Besides the BPE, for instance, there are the “English Defense League,” “PI News” and the Austrian “Mission Europe Network, Karl Martell.”

Differentiation From PRO

René Stadtkewitz, former member of the CDU fraction in the Berlin legislature, is the founder of the Berlin state organization and a member of the board of BPE. Stadtkewitz attained local fame in Berlin because, against the desires of the CDU, he placed himself at the head of the protests against the building of a mosque in Pankow district. In September 2010, he founded the party “Die Freiheit” (Freedom), after his removal from the CDU, because of his invitation to the Dutch populist Geert Wilders to give a speech in Berlin.

Other than “Die Freiheit,” the BPE maintains a distance from the PRO movements. It is not desirable to sacrifice the carefully maintained probity and policy competence for cooperation with a group which is regarded as part of the extreme right. The veteran, politically experienced Stadtkewitz, with the best of contacts in the capital, naturally has an advantage over the more or less dilettantish PRO movements. Distance from the PRO movements becomes a litmus test of loyalty. National member of the board, Wilfried Puhl-Schmidt, resigned at the beginning of October 2010 because he had displayed a BPE sign at a PRO-Germany rally in Berlin. As a reason for his resignation, he explained that he “would not like to give any movement that fishes on the right edge of the population an occasion to pull BPE into the boat with it.”


The above enumeration of BPE functionaries alone demonstrates that this is no splinter group of marginal “extremists.” To the contrary, their positions find agreement in the middle of society and their personnel is recruited from established representatives of the middle-class camp. Whether their strategy of racism barely disguised as “Islam criticism” has possibilities of long-range success, and Dutch conditions are imminent, is not yet decided. The “integration debate” resulting from the publication of Thilo Sarrazin’s book “Germany Does Away With Itself,” at any rate, gained the “Islam critics” unforeseen attention for their racist positions, and it is up to them to make political use of the social climate. Their political capability will be decided by the question of whether they continue to succeed in the balancing act between connecting to the middle-class and blatant racist hate-mongering à la PI News, and whether this milieu produces a more charismatic leader than the bland back-bencher Stadtkewitz.

One thought on “A Balancing Act

  1. “He [Ulfkotte] referred to post card motifs which portrayed Muslims as pigs, pedophiles and terrorists.”

    Pigs are better behaved and far more useful than jihadis. I would suggest that, if Muslims don’t want to be made fun of with porcine imagery, then they should not object to Christians raising, eating, or even mentioning pigs.

    But as far as Muslims being pedophiles and terrorists, way too many of them are, and it is impossible for outsiders to know which of them is going to commit either offense until it happens.

    Here again, it isn’t about the individuals, but rather, it’s about what ideology they adhere to. People’s behavior springs from their belief systems.

    There is nothing in Christianity, Judaism, or any other major faith that condones or encourages terrorism or pedophilia. Such is not the case with Islam.

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