Wednesday, January 7, 2015
PEGIDA, which was founded in October 2014 in Dresden by Lutz Bachmann, a convicted drug dealer and burglar, has established a pattern of weekly rallies attracting thousands of demonstrators across Germany, although its support is strongest in Dresden, the capital of Saxony. The January 5 rally mobilised a record 18,000 protesters, dwarfing the counter-demonstration of a few thousand people. Notwithstanding the strong resistance to PEGIDA in other German cities -- an estimated 30,000 counter-demonstrators marched on January 5 in Dresden, Stuttgart, Hamburg, Muenster, Berlin and Cologne -- the strength and persistence of the movement have sparked a debate in Germany and beyond about cultural identity and migration in an increasingly fractured and troubled region.
- The government may face challenges to reduce the number of asylum seekers, and could turn to other EU member states to ease the pressure.
- Concerns about immigration and cultural assimilation are decoupled from Germany's economic performance, which remains strong.
- Although manifested very differently, Germany, France and the United Kingdom are all showing signs of strain over immigration and Islam.