After two days of mass protests, tens of thousands of people took to the streets of German cities on Sunday to demonstrate against the far right. Alternative für Germany (AfD) party. and its anti-immigration agenda.
From Friday until the weekend, demonstrations were called in about 100 locations across Germany. Marches were held on Sunday in major cities such as Cologne, Munich and Berlin. Several other German cities, including Cottbus, Dresden and Chemnitz in the east, also planned demonstrations.
Police in Munich said that about 80,000 people participated in the march, while organizers estimated the number at 200,000. The march had to be canceled due to overcrowding.
Meanwhile, in Cologne, police sources estimated the number of demonstrators at about 10,000.
The largest protest is expected to be held in the capital, Berlin, where a coalition of organizations called on people to gather outside the Bundestag, or parliament's lower house, from 4pm local time (1500 GMT). Police expect only 1,000 to participate, but previous demonstrations have far exceeded initial estimates.
Huge demonstrations across Germany
According to estimates by the public broadcaster ARD, the number of demonstrators reached about 250,000 They gathered in cities across the country on SaturdayThey carry signs such as “Nazis out.”
About 35,000 people gathered in Frankfurt on Saturday to participate in a march to “defend democracy.” The demonstrators filled the central square, where organizers planned to hold the march, in addition to a second adjacent square and the streets in between. Police said the demonstration was peaceful.
On Friday, a mass march in Hamburg had to be stopped early, as many more people than expected participated. The police said it was the largest protest of its kind so far, with the number of participants reaching 50,000 people, and organizers estimated the number at 80,000, noting that the demonstration was ended before many could reach it.
Police estimates of crowd sizes at other protests included: 12,000 in Kassel, 7,000 each in Dortmund and Wuppertal, 20,000 in Karlsruhe, at least 10,000 in Nuremberg, about 16,000 in Halle/Saale, 5,000 in Koblenz and several thousand in Erfurt.
Why are so many people protesting now?
A wave of mobilization broke out against the far-right party A Jan. 10 report from investigative outlet CorrectivWhich revealed that members of the AfD party met with extremists in Potsdam in November to discuss the expulsion of immigrants and “unintegrated citizens.” Members of the conservative Christian Democratic Union, the main opposition party, also attended.
The meeting participants discussed “Re-immigration” A term often used in far-right circles as a euphemism for the expulsion of immigrants and minorities, including those who have acquired German citizenship.
News of the meeting shocked many in Germany at a time when the Alternative for Germany party is ranked high in opinion polls ahead of three major regional elections in eastern Germany, where the party has the highest levels of support. Chancellor Olaf SchulzHe, who joined a demonstration last weekend, said any plan to expel immigrants or citizens alike was “an attack on our democracy, and therefore on all of us.”
The AfD confirmed the attendance of its members at the meeting, but stressed that its proposals for reinstating immigration, which were part of its recent election manifesto, do not include naturalized German citizens. These comments were made at the meeting by an Austrian far-right figure, Martin Sellner, who is not a member of the Alternative for Germany party.
AED/RC (AFP, dpa)
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