What Pegida represents and why we oppose it

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A COUNTER-DEMONSTRATION TO the announcement of an Irish branch of Pegida, a racist anti-Islam group, will occur in Dublin on 6th February. It will be one of a series of Europe-wide counter-demonstrations against Pegida and its fascist political ideology.
 
But what is Pegida and why should we oppose it? 
 
 
What is Pegida?
Pegida is a German “anti-Islamisation” political movement.  The group’s name is an abbreviation of “Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident” (German: Patriotische Europäer gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes). Offshoots of Pegida have formed in various countries. Ireland may become the 15th country to establish a branch of the organisation.
 
Where does it come from?
Pegida was founded in October 2014 by Lutz Bachmann, who runs a public relations agency in Dresden. 
 
What does it stand for? 
Pediga opposes what it considers to be “the Islamisation of the Western world”. It demands more restrictive immigration rules, particularly for Muslims.
 
But they say they are anti-establishment?
Pegida self-describes as anti-establishment, appealing to people’s resentment and fear in the wake of austerity, rising inequality and a growing lack of democracy within state and EU institutions. It also tries to exploit the arrival of migrants and refugees from the war-torn Middle East as an opportunity to demonise, to incite hatred against and to attack Muslims. 
 
Pegida presents its arguments in a hypocritical register of reasonableness and concern for people. The reality is that the group is a front for racist, far-right, and fascist political actors who have a much more sinister agenda than they are prepared to argue for in public.
 
Who are the primary leaders? 
A good example of Pegida’s mask slipping is provided by its founder, Lutz Bachmann. 
On 21 January 2015, Bachmann resigned from Pegida after excerpts from a closed Facebook conversation incriminated him as having designated immigrants as "animals", "scumbags" and "trash". He was also quoted commenting that extra security was needed at the welfare office "to protect employees from the animals". On one occasion, Bachmann had posted a photo of a man wearing the uniform of the Ku Klux Klan accompanied by the slogan: "Three Ks a day keeps the minorities away."
 
In February 2015 Pegida confirmed on its Facebook page that Lutz Bachmann had been re-elected as chairman by the six other members of the organisation’s leadership committee.
 
Wait a second. Haven’t other fascist groups emerged from Germany in the past?
Yes. Pegida considers itself the natural heirs to the Nazis of the 1930s and 40s. At Pegida's anniversary event on 19 October 2015, keynote speaker Akif Pirinçci named the Muslim refugees as invaders, with Germany becoming a "Muslim garbage dump." Pirinçci said the German government was acting like "Gauleiter against their own people," as they wanted critics of Germany's refugee policy to leave the country. Addressing the crowd shouting "Resistance!", he claimed that "there are other alternatives – but the concentration camps are unfortunately out of order at the moment." In Leipzig, as Pegida celebrated their one year anniversary, participants attacked and vandalised foreign-owned shops.
 
How has Pegida operated?
Throughout late 2014 and early 2015, Pediga held demonstrations every Monday, at a location and time specified beforehand on the movement's official Facebook page. Its Facebook page has almost 200,000 followers. It is seeking an electoral foothold. In June, 2015, Pegida candidate Tatjana Festerling ran for the mayoral office of Dresden, polling 9.6% in the first round. Marches in the streets also continue. Pegida drew as many as 20,000 supporters to a 19 October 2015 rally in Dresden.
 
Who are Pegida’s supporters?
Pegida’s appeal should not be underestimated, particularly given the wider political climate. Dresden University of Technology (TU) interviewed 400 Pegida demonstrators on 22 December 2014 and 12 January 2015. According to the poll, the main reasons of their participation were dissatisfaction with the political situation (54 percent), "Islam, Islamism and Islamisation” (23 percent), criticism of the media and the public (20 percent), and reservations regarding asylum seekers and migrants (15 percent). 
 
Who are Pegida’s Irish supporters?
Pegida’s Irish-support base centres on the far-right group, Identity Ireland. Dan Ó Loinsigh claimed the group has 400 members in Ireland. Peter O’Loughlin of Identity Ireland will be running in Cork North Central in the 2016 General Election. He won 930 votes for Identity Ireland in the Carlow-Kilkenny by-election last year. Pegida UK co-ordinator and former English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson is also involved.
 
Why do we oppose Pegida?
As the WSM Constitution states: “We actively oppose all manifestations of prejudice within the workers' movement and society in general and we work alongside those struggling against racism, sexism, [religious] sectarianism and homophobia as a priority. We see the success of a revolution and the successful elimination of these oppressions after the revolution being determined by the building of such struggles in the pre-revolutionary period. The methods of struggle that we promote are a preparation for the running of society along anarchist and communist lines after the revolution.”
 
As one comrade posted this morning, "Pegida must be stopped from gaining any foothold here. Capitalism and the way in which it condemns hundreds of millions of people worldwide to lives of poverty, destitution and war is responsible for the ghettoisation and impoverishment of communities. Blaming 'Muslims' lets the super wealthy and those really ripping us off off the hook. In Ireland it is the fact that governments have chosen to bail out bankers and international financial gamblers that has led to the current crisis in homelessness, and has led to massive cuts in necessary social services. Blaming 'Muslims' is nothing short of ridiculous. 
 
The 'English Defence League' are direct inheritors of the politics that not so long ago saw signs in London windows saying 'No blacks. No dogs. No Irish'.
 
Pegida have nothing to offer: they cannot be allowed to spew their hatred or build a base of support, or we will all suffer in the long run". 
 
Two different futures are fighting to be born in this moment.
 
One is the future of more effective border guards, of dragging refugees off trains and herding them into camps, of war without end, of hatred for the 'other', of wealth for a privilege few and immiseration for the masses.
 
The other future is glimpsed in the people quietly organising our own aid convoys to Calais, of solidarity with Rojava, of fighting for an equality that will be global in scope and from which no one will be locked out.
 
Which of those futures will you choose to fight for?
 
 

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