Stephen Brown, Yahoo! News, December 12, 2014
Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday condemned anti-Muslim demonstrations centered on the eastern city of Dresden, saying there was “no place in Germany” for hatred of Muslims or any other minority.
In a speech at a party congress of her Bavarian allies in Nuremberg, Merkel also denounced an attack on buildings in a nearby town being turned into refuge for asylum-seekers. The structures were set on fire and daubed with swastikas.
“It is unbearable when homes of asylum-seekers are defiled, when people try to make radical slogans,” Merkel said, adding that everyone coming to Germany had the right to be treated decently.
Earlier on Friday, Merkel’s spokeswoman Christiane Wirtz said: “In the name of the government and the chancellor I can say quite clearly that there is no place in Germany for religious hatred, no matter which religion people belong to.”
“There is no place for Islamophobia, anti-Semitism or any form of xenophobia or racism,” Wirtz said of the growing Monday evening marches in Dresden under the motto PEGIDA, standing for “Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West”.
A backlash is being felt: this week Merkel’s conservatives debated banning the burka, the full body covering worn by some Muslim women, and her Bavarian allies had to drop a proposal to oblige immigrants to speak German at home.
The latest PEGIDA march on Monday drew up to 10,000 people and almost as many counter-demonstrators. The organizers, who began two months ago with a few hundred people, say they are not against immigrants but want to protest against Islamic extremism and the influx of asylum-seekers.