Andrew Marszal, Telegraph, December 31, 2014
Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, has used her New Year’s Eve address to launch a scathing attack on the country’s growing anti-Muslim protests, calling its leaders racists who are driven by hatred.
In a televised message due to be broadcast tonight, Mrs Merkel urged Germans to turn their backs on demonstrations that have seen up to 17,000 people gather each Monday in the eastern city of Dresden to protest against the “Islamisation of the West”.
Speaking to those considering joining the protests, she said: “Do not follow those who have called the rallies. Because all too often they have prejudice, coldness, even hatred in their hearts.”
She also condemned the movement’s co-opting of the “We are the people” slogan used in the rallies that led up to the fall of the Berlin Wall 25 years ago.
“Today many people are again shouting on Mondays: ‘We are the people’. But in fact they mean: ‘You do not belong–because of the colour of your skin or your religion’,” she said.
The so-called “Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident”, or Pegida, a Right-wing populist movement formed in late October, has sparked intense national debate in a country where many are worried about the flood of asylum seekers, many from Syria, pouring into the country.
The number of asylum-seekers arriving in Germany has surged to about 200,000 this year, four times the numbers in 2012. Net immigration has hit a two-decade high.
But Mrs Merkel said it was essential for Germany to help the children of persecuted people to grow up without fear.
In a wide-ranging speech, Mrs Merkel referred to conflicts in Ukraine and Iraq and Syria, where the Islamic State jihadist group “brutally murders all those people who refuse to submit to its rule”.
“One consequence of these wars and crises is that worldwide there are more refugees than we have seen since the Second World War. Many literally escaped death,” she said.
“It goes without saying that we help them and take in people who seek refuge with us.”
Mrs Merkel, who grew up in East Germany, also accused Russia of undermining the principle of self-determination, which she described as the foundation of Europe’s peaceful order. She said Europe would not allow Russia to abuse human rights.