Protests against Pegida growing louder
After demonstrations against the anti-Islam Pegida movement in several German cities on Monday, prominent public figures from politics and business have signed an appeal against xenophobia. Pegida is forcing the Germans to show their commitment to democracy, some commentators write. Others accuse German Chancellor Angela Merkel of fomenting Islamophobia with her foreign policy.
Pegida a wake-up call for German democrats
Thousands of Germans protested in counter demonstrations against the Pegida rallies in several German cities on Monday night. They are showing who the German people really are, the left-liberal daily Frankfurter Rundschau comments: "If there is anything good at all about Pegida, it's the new or rediscovered realisation among many citizens that our democratic constitutional state must not be taken for granted, and that it must be actively defended. ... Above all at a time when the established parties are losing their appeal, demonstrations can influence debates and decision-making processes, and rekindle ties between the people and their politicians. ... [The Pegida demonstrations] are forcing the silent majority to express themselves, take a stance and prevent the other side from occupying the public sphere. This in turn generates a new self-assurance in the Federal Republic: we are the people. The more clearly we say that, the harder things will be for the demagogues in Dresden and elsewhere."
Merkel's foreign policy fuels Islamophobia
Germany must do more to understand why so many people support the Pegida movement, the left-liberal daily Dnevnik urges: "German politicians must realise that since the departure of [former chancellor] Gerhard Schröder, Angela Merkel's government has been too closely allied to US policy - which behaves in the Muslim world like a bull in a china shop and encourages religious extremists as a result. Demonising the secular, autocratic regimes in Iraq, Libya and Syria resulted not in the desired democratisation but in a flood of asylum seekers, of whom Germany took in 200,000 last year. It wasn't [Pegida leader] Lutz Bachman but Western politicians who let the genie out of the bottle and created the Islamic State."
Right is forgetting Europe's multiculti history
Anti-immigration movements like Pegida overlook the fact that from a historical point of view Europe has almost always been a constantly changing mixture of cultures, the left-liberal daily The Guardian points out: "Things were never stable, nor populations fixed in stone. Europe is after all the appendix of a great and contrasted landmass - it was always meant to be a crossroads. We may be baffled by changes, but there were times when we lived with much more diversity in our midst. ... The only time Europeans experienced relative demographic homogeneity - that era of supposed tranquillity - was in the wake of Hitler's and Stalin's devastations. Such thoughts might not be enough to calm the anti-Muslim crowds. But they could help."
EU must fight xenophobia hand in hand
The Pegida movement in Germany as well as the right-wing movements in France and Greece have the potential to destroy the EU, the left-liberal daily El País warns and proposes joint action against extremist stances: "Coordinated and decisive action is needed against the illegal immigration flows organised by the mafias, combined with measures to promote uncomplicated legal immigration. We also need the EU partners to take coordinated and resolute action - penal whenever possible and political always - against racist movements. Either the EU finds a way to dismantle these movements or they will end up dismantling the EU. We can't leave Germany or France or Greece to fight our common enemies on their own."