Police ban Pegida rally in Dresden

The police department in the German city of Dresden has banned all public gatherings in the city for today, Monday, owing to suspicions of a plan to attack a demonstration by the anti-Islam alliance Pegida. In a prior move Pegida had itself called off its march for security reasons. Now the movement's supporters will be able to cast themselves as martyrs, commentators fear, and call for a halt to the spiral of fanaticism among Islamists and anti-Islamists alike.

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taz, die tageszeitung (DE) /

Pegida supporters can now pose as martyrs

Supporters and opponents of Pegida plan to demonstrate today, Monday, in other German cities in the wake of a ban on demonstrations in Dresden. The left-leaning daily taz suspects this won't be the end of Pegida: "On the contrary, now Pegida's organisers can cast themselves as freedom-of-opinion martyrs who have been forced by Islamist terrorists to abandon their right to a free demonstration. Whoever made this threat has done the opponents of a multi-cultural republic a huge favour. No commentator can say whether the police's ban on all demonstrations in Dresden following the cancellation is justified or not. ... [The ban is] an encroachment on basic rights that exist for very good reasons. So it's more than appropriate that it be explained to the public."

La Repubblica (IT) /

Stop vicious circle of radicalisation

In view of the threats issued by suspected terrorists against the Pegida demonstration in Dresden Timothy Garton-Ash warns against further radicalisation in the left-liberal daily La Repubblica: "Anti-immigration far right are looking to pick up votes across Europe. The Dresden case is fortunately, thus far, not typical of Germany as a whole. ... The fact that the friendly, polite Muslim guy who delivered pizza (as one of the Kouachi brothers did) turns out to be an Islamist assassin is bound to increase suspicion of Muslims among so-called ordinary people. And there are plenty of politicians, journalists and rabble-rousers around to stir that suspicion. Ukip's Nigel Farage has even talked of a 'fifth column' amid his English folk. ... This in turn will produce more anxiety among European Muslims and, if we are not careful, more radicalisation among a small minority of them. How do we stop the vicious downward spiral? Traditionally, European parties of the centre-right such as the CDU and the Conservatives have tacked to the right to win back such voters. Up to a point, that is legitimate. But beyond that point you have to do what Chancellor Merkel has now done and say: enough - thus far and no further."

Népszabadság (HU) /

Merkel's stance on Islam exemplary

The left-liberal daily Népszabadság welcomes German Chancellor Angela Merkel's statement that Islam is part of German society. In these times of fear of terrorism and anti-Islam propaganda she is the voice of reason, the newspaper applauds: "The chancellor's statement is notable in that she is not otherwise known for speaking frankly. ... But despite her notorious vacillating and procrastinating Merkel pursues a policy based on values. And for her the highest value is freedom. Given that she lived in the GDR for 35 years she knows why she thinks like this. A multi-coloured, open-minded Germany that has come to terms with its historical responsibility fits in with her image of freedom. ... She doesn't demand that anyone give up their identity. But she does expect people to respect the basic rules of coexistence in Germany. It's not about what religious or cultural background a person has but whether they accept liberal democracy."