Pegida demonstrates for "Fortress Europe"

Fewer supporters of Pegida and other Islamophobic alliances took part in the Europe-wide action day against the reception of refugees than expected. Pegida supporters are by no means the silent majority, some commentators believe. Others warn against trivialising the anti-refugee movements.

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Libération (FR) /

Peace of the continent at stake

The EU must finally do more to counter anti-democratic developments, the centre-left daily Libération writes in the wake of the Europe-wide Pegida demonstrations on the weekend:

“Both suspension procedures for a member state and any reform of the EU treaties can only be decided on unanimously. However the populists always manage to stay on the ball. The result is a murderous paralysis, because what with the economic crisis and the growing rejection of refugees the traditional parties are becoming increasingly susceptible to the ideas of the far right, and this contamination has reached the west of the continent. We see this with the rise of racist movements like Pegida, which started in Germany and is now spreading to France - as we unfortunately saw in Calais on Saturday. What will it take for people to react? ... Nothing less than the peace of our continent is at stake.”

Dennik N (SK) /

Real danger overlooked

The major threat to the Czech Republic and Slovakia is not the refugees but right-wing extremists, the liberal daily Dennik N stresses:

“It was extremists who attacked a Czech Radio team during the demonstration. And the police didn't come to its help. … The growing 'boldness' of the Nazis in resorting to physical violence is hardly surprising in a climate in which political leaders give their views legitimacy. In the Czech Republic President Zeman is fulfilling this role, while Prime Minister Fico is doing the same in Slovakia. Integrating the refugees will be difficult and in some cases it will fail. But the real threat is posed by others, by people who are part of our society. We will underestimate it until it's too late.”

Lidové noviny (CZ) /

Pegida is not the silent majority

The German populist movement Pegida must not be played down despite the surprisingly low turnout for Europe-wide anti-Islam demonstrations, writes the conservative daily Lidové noviny:

“A few thousand demonstrators are not the silent majority. In Germany, the Czech Republic and elsewhere the silent majority made it clear that despite all the criticism of the governments and the EU it is not leaning towards political radicalism. Nonetheless the actions and nasty atmosphere in Prague should not be trivialised, including an arson attack on a refugee help centre in Prague. … The attack as well as the violent clashes between xenophobes and friends of foreigners harked back to the atmosphere in the Weimar Republic. But for us to really start talking about Weimar the current government structures would have to have failed. And that is not the case.”