Recently, the Syrian Refugee Crisis has swept Europe up in a storm and prompted action from several European Union (EU) leaders regarding immigration. For Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel has declared a “refugees welcome” policy, under which more than 50,000 immigrants are able to legally enter Germany per week.
Merkel’s policy has sparked both strong opposition and support in Germany. On Monday (October 20, 2015) evening in Dresden, thousands of demonstrators, both for and against immigration, staged protests regarding Merkel’s policies. Estimates of attendance range from 39,000, as reported by protest organizers, to 15,000-20,000 according to independent estimates.
Pegida, Germany’s largest populist anti-immigration movement, organized the protest to mark its one-year anniversary of formation. Lutz Bachmann, Pegida’s leader, took the protest as an opportunity to broadcast his filing a criminal complaint against Thomas de Maiziere, the nation’s interior minister, and criticized other German leaders.
Various anti-immigration speakers skirted specific policy issues and instead focused on praising the public for its support and encouraging anti-Merkel sentiment with chants of “Merkel must go” and “Deportation.” Counter-protestors belonging to the pro-refugee group Hearts not Hate group have attracted similar numbers in support and chant, on the contrary, “Refugees Welcome.” As the attack by a right wing extremist on Saturday in Cologne on Henriette Reker, a pro-refugee mayoral candidate, shows, immigration remains a serious issue for Germany and similar European nations.
Contributor: Elaine Chen