The following report on Monday night’s PEGIDA demonstration in Dresden was published in the alternative media outlet Blasting News Germany. Many thanks to JLH for the translation:
A Year of PEGIDA: How It Really Was!
by Robin Classen, October 20, 2015
PEGIDA has celebrated its anniversary: More than 30,000 people demonstrated in Dresden yesterday for a free Germany.
There have been almost 50 demonstrations since PEGIDA took its first walk on the streets of Dresden. Impetus for it at the time came from — among other things — battles of Yazidis, Kurds and Chechens on German streets. Within a few weeks the “Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West” became one of the largest protest movements in the history of the Federal Republic.
Before the first anniversary of the movement, the political climate in the wake of “asylum chaos” was exacerbated: Gabriel called the demonstrators a “pack,” others called them “Mischpoke”, and even Merkel warned against participation.
What was it like, really?
Anyone who reads the press sees reports of outbursts of violence and hate speech. But what was it really like? The Blasting News Germany journalist Robin Classen was on the spot and confirmed that PEGIDA is not being unfair in its use of the catch-word “Lying Press. [Lügenpresse]”
A cross-section of society
The Theater Square was quite full already at 6:00 PM. Thousands of people — with a preponderance of Saxons — had gathered there, were lighting candles and waving their banners and home-made placards. Many had taken the trouble to fasten LEDs to the poles of their banners and posters, immersing the festively lighted square in a colorful sea of lights. There was a representative cross-section of society, from the youngest pupil to the older student to the elderly lady. Jogging pants fluttered in the breeze alongside exquisite ladies’ coats. No trace of aggression or tendency to violence.
Violence-prone anarchists actually on the other side
But it did appear at the entrance to theater Square where masked counter-protestors stood, barred passageways and screamed at anyone who dared to make use of his right to assembly. Are these tattooed, pierced screamers really the “Uprising of the Respectable”? The other counter-protestors were demonstrating screened off to avoid confrontations, and were not to be seen.
European speakers and democratic messages
The speeches from the “PEGIDANS” began: Lutz Bachmann was first, followed by speakers from Italy, Poland, Czechia, Holland and England, intended to paint a diverse picture of the European peoples and to undergird the claim of the movement to be supporting the inner agreement of the European peoples. A speech by Akif Pirinci, the Turkish writer known for his scatological language, which actually contained some hateful language, was drowned out by cries of “Stop!” from the public. On the other hand, another who spoke for the right to existence of all peoples — including the Israelis — was applauded. As a West German who has thus far known only the reporting from the media, it was enough to make me rub my eyes. Rightist extremism doesn’t look like this.
Near the end, a shocking report: A PEGIDA demonstrator was severely injured by leftist extremists, and the politically protected counter demonstrators had closed off all exits, The crowd waited patiently and peacefully, until the police had swept these criminals off the street with truncheons and water cannons.
There were 30,000
Departure was peaceful and largely without confrontation. According to the city’s office of public order, there were altogether 39,000 people on the square — it was full to bursting. And yet the media accepted uncritically the claims of the leftist alliance “Durchgezählt” that there were between 15,000 and 20,000 participants. Actually, there were at least 30,000. The long trip home took place in a thoughtful mood. One phrase swirled around in my mind: Lying Press.
|1.||From the Hebrew by way of Yiddish, where it simply denotes family relationship. In standard German, however, it is derogatory.
Photo caption: What a great backdrop for PEGIDA!
For links to previous articles about PEGIDA (Patriotische Europäer Gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes, Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West) and related movements, see the PEGIDA Archives.