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moon action

Saturday, 31 January 2015


Auckland's booming property market is running out of student accommodation. At one inner-city property this week, up to 150 desperate renters queued up at an open home. Experts say the worsening shortage reflects soaring house values in suburbs such as Ponsonby, Grey Lynn, Mt Eden and Epsom, with many former rentals too valuable to be offered as student flats. Parents anxious to find accommodation for their children are calling property management companies and even turning up to open homes. But with thousands of students battling for fewer properties, many are dossing with parents or being forced into cheaper outlying areas. Property Investors Federation executive officer Andrew King said landlords - many nearing retirement age - sitting on $1.5 million to $2 million properties were choosing to sell up and cash in on the buoyant market rather than settle for rental returns on their investments. Many of the properties are becoming family homes, reducing the number of available rentals for Auckland's 40,000-strong student population. With University of Auckland and AUT classes set to begin in about four weeks, competition has become cut-throat for centrally located, well-priced accommodation. A four-bedroom Bellevue Rd flat in Mt Eden with an asking rent of $650 attracted about 150 prospective tenants on Thursday and over 40 formal applications. They included a second-year bachelor of science student who has looked at 16 flats in the past fortnight. Goode Rentals director Darryl Goode said, "I've been doing it for 15 years and this is the biggest [turnout] ever. The sad thing is there's only going to be one winner. Where are all these people going to go?" Several people applied to rent the property before even viewing it and some turned up with their parents to make a good impression. Many provided CV-like applications with photos and cover letters. Others offered extra cash. "People are just saying, 'What can I do - what do we have to do to get this place?'" Mr Goode said the shortage of inner-city student accommodation had been worsening for the last three years. Auckland University Students' Association president Paul Smith said students were searching fruitlessly for accommodation close to the city campus. "A lot of students are opting to stay at home and live with their parents for longer. It seems this year is tougher than last year which was tougher than the year before." There was little the association or university could do to help. "It's going to be tough. All you can do is start looking early, stay in the game and do your best." A year ago, Trade Me had 4627 Auckland rental properties listed, including 2327 in Auckland city. Yesterday there were 3652 listed in Auckland, including 1709 in Auckland city. LINK:


Friday, 30 January 2015



New Zealand migration surged to a record in 2014 as more people relocated from India and Australia and fewer kiwis departed across the Tasman. The country had a 50,922 net migration gain in 2014, up from 22,468 in 2013, Statistics New Zealand said. The number of migrants increased 16 percent to a record 109,317 in 2014, while departures fell 18 percent to 58,395, the agency said. New Zealand's burgeoning economy has attracted a record influx of people at the same time as fewer kiwis depart for Australia, given the comparatively weaker outlook for the Australian economy. That's helped push up local demand for items such as vehicles, where sales rose to a record last year, and kept wage inflation low. The central bank is keeping a close eye on the effect on the housing market amid concerns that a lack of supply will cause house prices to spike, creating financial instability. "The attractiveness of the New Zealand labour market relative to Australia's and the rest of the world's has, and will continue to be a key influence," ASB Bank senior economist Chris Tennent-Brown said in a note. "We will be carefully monitoring migration figures over the coming months before coming to any conclusion about whether net migration inflows are at a peak, and about to return to more normal levels.' The gain in migrants last year was led by India, where an extra 4,599 arrivals took the total to 11,303 and saw the country overtake China as New Zealand's third-largest migrant country. Australia was the second-largest source of migrants, cementing its position as New Zealand's largest source, with an extra 3,726 arrivals taking the total to 23,275. An extra 1,333 migrants came from China, taking the total to 9,515, while an additional 1,230 arrivals from the Philippines took its total to 3,890, the sixth-largest. Meanwhile some 258 fewer migrants arrived from the UK, the second-largest source of New Zealand's migrants, taking the total to 13,680. A net 3,797 New Zealanders relocated to Australia in 2014, just a fifth of last year's net loss of 19,605 people and substantially down from 2012's net loss of 38,796, the agency said. It was the smallest net loss to Australia in a 12-month period since May 1994. Still, for the December month net migration slowed to a seasonally adjusted gain of 4,100, the lowest level in seven months and down from 5,000 in November and a peak of 5,230 in October due to fewer arrivals of non-New Zealand citizens, the agency said. "A monthly pace of net immigration of 4,100 is still very strong," Westpac Banking Corp senior economist Felix Delbruck said in a note. "However, it is a significant drop from the recent monthly pace of around 5,000, and raises questions around whether the migration boom will continue to intensify. At this stage we are inclined to take the December drop with a grain of salt. Seasonal factors can make the underlying trend hard to gauge around this time of year." Separately, the number of visitors to New Zealand rose 5 percent in December from the year earlier month to a record 402,500, as visitors from China surged 39 percent, the agency said. China also contributed the biggest annual increase in visitors, followed by Australia, the US and Germany. Total visitor numbers rose 5 percent in 2014 to 2.86 million, the agency said. New Zealanders departures on overseas trips rose 4 percent to 2.27 million in 2014. LINK:

Wednesday, 21 January 2015


JUST ONE YEAR GONE but so many things happened in RWR NZ. At the beginning of 2014, Upper North Island Division called Northern Division was going to change its name. There were few options available. I suggested mine: NORTHERN WOLVES. Kyle was keen, and other members agreed as well on this new name. A new tee-shirt was made by March. Meanwhile Celtic Prince from UK, the main RWR editor, set up a new blog for the former Northern Division called Northern Wolves on January 21st. He run the blog until April, then he was absent. In June, I became the editor of the blog. June was a turning point for RWR NZ. Hamilton Unit collapsed. Many of its members quit (the Northern Wolves Commander, the Unit Leader and other members) to join a new organisation (division 88 NZ). Why? Mainly because they didn't agree with the new RWR policy "Poverty Watch". Auckland was shaken as well. Between April and July Auckland and Auckland South Unit Leaders quit. And other members as well. In August, Vaughan Tocker, the Central Division Commander of the Lower North Island, became the Northern Wolves Commander. Central and Northern Divisions were united. New units were created mostly in Lower North Island. Vaughan's team includes now mainly members of Masterton and Palmerston North Units. In Taranaki, a Viking Division was set up very focused on the Norse and Anglo-Saxon Cultural Heritage. Northern Wolves blog covers now Upper North (Auckland and Hamilton) as it was supposed to be at the very beginning but also the rest of the North Island. The hot topics of January are "Freedom of Speech in Europe" and "European Cultural Heritage". 21 January 2015: Year Two starts now. Happy Birthbday Northern Wolves blog!

Tuesday, 20 January 2015


(Image: FENRIR THE WOLF) THIS YEAR the Birthday is on Wednesday (= Wotan's Day). Sounds good. And do not forget: Wolf is one of Odin's totem animals.



After major death threats led to the cancellation of the weekly Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West (PEGIDA) march in Dresden, Germany, organisers of a Pegida event in Copenhagen confirmed the demonstration will go as planned on Monday (19 January). Nicolai Sennels, the organiser of the Pegida march in Copenhagen, took to Twitter before the march and said: "There are again rumours that Pegidadk rally is cancelled and rescheduled. It is not. The demonstration will be held as scheduled." Der er igen rygter om, at Pegidadk demonstrationen er aflyst eller rykket. Det er den ikke. Demonstrationen afholdes som planlagt. Nicolai — Nicolai Sennels (@NicolaiSennels) January 19, 2015 The organiser said his march is a demonstration against "fundamental Islam". Speaking to Politiken, Sennels said: "I will give ordinary middle class Danes - like myself - the chance to send a signal to those who try to intimidate us and say: No thanks to your ideology." Demo mod islam IKKE aflyst. #cph #Aarhus #Pegida #dkpol #FreedomOfSpeech — Pegida Danmark (@PegidaDK) January 19, 2015 In an article titled 'Psychology: Why Islam creates monsters' in Jihad Watch, Sennels earlier addressed his concerns about Islam and said: "The problem with Islam and Muslim culture is that there are so many psychological factors pushing its followers towards a violent attitude against non-Muslims that a general violent clash is — at least from a psychological perspective — inevitable." Monday's event marked Pegida's first real inauguration march in Denmark. Meanwhile, demonstrators from the Revolutionære Antifacister (Revolutionary Anti-Fascists) group were also confirmed to come face to face with the Pegida demonstrators, reported The Local. 19/1/15 Copenhagen- Pro Pegida marchers will start at National Gallery of Denmark at 1800, anti fascist marchers at Sankt Hans Torv. — Genvisec Infomap (@GenvisecInfomap) January 19, 2015 In a Facebook post, the Revolutionary Anti-Fascists group encouraged its supporters to "show their resistance" to Pegida demonstrators. The message read: "We still encourage all anti-racists, anti-fascists and other comrades to remain in the area or head toward the National Gallery of Denmark and the Little Mermaid after the demonstration is over and show their resistance against Pegida DK in the way you wish to do it." Meanwhile, police officials said they will hold a "very visible" presence at the Copenhagen demonstrations. Copenhagen Police inspector Mogens Lauridsen said: "We have put together a large police operation with a large set-up. We will be very visible at the location to ensure that everything goes down peacefully and orderly." An estimated 300 people had signed up to participate in the Denmark's Pegida protests planned for Copenhagen and Aarhus in western Denmark. LINK:


Saturday, 17 January 2015


Dozens of terror suspects were arrested in Belgium, France, and Germany early Friday, a day after Belgian authorities said that they halted a plot to attack police officers by mere hours. Eric Van der Sypt, a Belgian federal magistrate, told a news conference Friday in Brussels that 13 people had been detained in Belgium in connection with the plot, with another two arrested in neighboring France. He added that a dozen searches had led to the discovery of four military-style weapons including Kalashnikov assault rifles. On Thursday, Belgian police had moved against a suspected terrorist hideout in the eastern town of Verviers. In the ensuing firefight, two terror suspects were killed, while a third was wounded and arrested. At the time, officials said the militant group targeted in the raid included some who had returned from Syria. Authorities have previously said 300 Belgian residents have gone to fight with extremist Islamic formations in Syria; it is unclear how many have returned. Authorities in Belgium signaled they were ready for more trouble by raising the national terror alert level from 2 to 3, the second-highest level. Prime Minister Charles Michel said the increase in the threat level was "a choice for prudence." "There is no concrete or specific knowledge of new elements of threat," he said. Meanwhile, French police arrested at least 12 people in anti-terrorism raids in three towns around Paris, the city prosecutor's office said early Friday. The prosecutor's office said that the raids were targeting people with links to Amedy Coulibaly, the gunman who attacked a kosher supermarket Jan. 9 and claimed ties to the Islamic State terror group. Police officials earlier told The Associated Press that they were seeking up to eight to 10 potential accomplices Coulibaly was one of three gunmen who carried out a series of terror attacks that resulted in the deaths of 17 people. Authorities in France and several other countries are looking for possible accomplices. One suspect, Coulibaly's common-law wife Hayat Boumeddiane, is believed to have fled to Syria earlier this month. Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported Friday morning that the Gare l'Est train station in Paris had been closed and evacuated due to a bomb threat. A police official, who was not authorized to be publicly named, told the AP that the station was closed "as a precaution," but would not give further details. The Gare l'Est is one of the major stations in Paris, serving cities in Eastern France and countries to the east. Also Friday, Berlin police said that they had taken two men into custody on suspicion that they were recruiting fighters and procuring equipment and funding for the Islamic State group, better known as ISIS, in Syria. The two were picked up in a series of raids involving the search of 11 residences by 250 police officers. Authorities said the raids were part of a months-long investigation into a small group of extremists based in Berlin. However, they also said there was no evidence the group was planning attacks inside Germany. The group's leader, identified only as 41-year-old Ismet D. in accordance with privacy laws, is accused organizing the group of largely Turkish and Russian nationals to fight against "infidels" in Syria. Emin F., 43, is accused of being in charge of finances. Those recruited include Murat S., a 40-year-old Turkish man who was arrested in September after returning from Syria where had allegedly gone to fight. In an unrelated raid, German police arrested 26-year-old German-Tunisian dual national into custody Thursday on suspicion he had gone to fight with the terrorist group in Syria. Police made the arrest in Wolfsburg, 120 miles outside Berlin. Earlier Thursday, Belgian authorities said they were looking into possible links between a man they arrested in the southern city of Charleroi for illegal trade in weapons and Coulibaly. The man arrested in Belgium "claims that he wanted to buy a car from the wife of Coulibaly," Van der Sypt said. "At this moment this is the only link between what happened in Paris." Van der Sypt said that "of course, naturally" we are continuing the investigation. At first, the man came to police himself claiming there had been contact with Coulibaly's common-law wife regarding the car, but he was arrested following a search of his premises when indications of illegal weapons trading were found. A Belgian connection figured in a 2010 French criminal investigation into a foiled terrorist plot in which Coulibaly was one of the convicted co-conspirators. The plotters included a Brussels-area contact who was supposed to furnish both weapons and ammunition, according to French judicial documents obtained by The Associated Press. Spain's National Court said in a statement it was investigating what Coulibaly did in the country's capital, Madrid, with Boumeddiene and a third person who wasn't identified but is suspected of helping Boumeddiene get from Turkey to Syria.



Friday, 16 January 2015


TYR, son of Odin, who lost his right hand to Fenrir the wolf. Basic Attributes: war, justice, victory, self-sacrifice, honour.

Thursday, 15 January 2015


Denmark’s parliament is debating whether a mosque in the country’s west should be shut after police said it was used to recruit fighters for Islamic State. “One of the most important tasks of the intelligence forces is to monitor people leaving to fight in Syria and Iraq who then try to return to Denmark,” Justice MinisterMette Frederiksen told lawmakers today. “Those people should be in no doubt that they’re being watched 24/7.” The debate, which comes a week after Islamist extremists targeted satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in France’s worst terrorist massacre in half a century, shows immigration is emerging as a key theme ahead of Danish elections due to take place by September. “In these times, it’s particularly important that Denmark consider what steps we’re taking to combat extremism,” Frederiksen said. “The attacks in France only made this debate more relevant. When such a violent, inhumane attack happens it shows our democracies, our freedom of speech are under attack.” Denmark became the target of violent protests across much of the Muslim world in early 2006, a few months after newspaper Jyllands-Posten published caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. The motion to shut the mosque was put forward by an opposition bloc led by the anti-immigration Danish People’s Party, which polls show has won two-thirds more followers since 2011. The party now enjoys the backing of about 20 percent of the electorate, according to an average of polls compiled by newspaper Berlingske. The mosque being debated in parliament today is in Aarhus, Denmark’s biggest city after the capital Copenhagen. In a documentary by local broadcaster Danmarks Radio, a number of clerics from the mosque openly supported Islamic State, a militant Sunni Muslim group that has seized territory in Iraq and Syria. A 2013 police study showed that 22 of the 27 Danes based in Aarhus who joined Islamic State in Syria and Iraq had attended the mosque. Frederiksen said she was “tempted” to shut the mosque, but told parliament such a move was unlikely to win government backing due to obstacles in the country’s constitution. The biggest opposition party, the Liberals, also said it won’t back the motion. Denmark would consider taking away the passport of any citizen found to have ties to Islamic State, Frederiksen said. LINK:




When French president Francois Hollande addressed the nation on Friday in the wake of terrorist attacks that left 20 dead, he uttered the predictable mantra: "These fanatics have nothing to do with the Muslim religion". His comment is understandable given that France has more than five million Muslims, a stagnant economy, 24 per cent youth unemployment and endemic social alienation among young Muslims. His comment is also nonsense. A de facto world war is under way and it has everything to do with Islam. It is not thousands of lone wolfs. It is not un-Islamic conduct. It involves thousands of Muslims acting on what they believe is their religious duty to subjugate non-believers, as outlined in the Koran. And the problem is growing, not contracting. There was once a tradition among young Australians to travel overland from Singapore to London. That route has become a hell-hole: Pakistan is dangerous. Afghanistan is a no-go area. Iran is an oppressive theocracy. Iraq is disintegrating. Syria is a disaster area. Lebanon is dangerous. In Turkey, for the first time, Australians travelling to Gallipoli will be going under a security alert. All these Muslim countries used to be safe for transit. The intimidation being practised in the name of Islam by a small minority is a by-product of something much larger – the state-mandated conservatism that is systemic in the majority of Muslim societies. Most of them are dictatorships, monarchies, theocracies or failed states. An investigation by Kings College London and the BBC World Service found that in a single month, November 2014, 5042 people were killed by jihadists in 664 separate attacks across 14 countries. That is one death every eight minutes. It is ongoing. On Thursday, the Islamist group Boko Haram (which translates as "Western education is forbidden") is believed to have murdered up to 2000 people in Nigeria. These crimes, far greater in scale than those in Paris, received only a fraction of the attention. In the 35 years since the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979, at least a million people have been killed in tens of thousands of jihad attacks, religious civil wars or wars between predominantly Muslim countries. In France, a form of dissimilation (to borrow a term from phonetics) is taking place. About 40 per cent of young Muslims are unemployed and thousands have embraced radical Islam as a form of social retaliation. Surveys have found that between 16 and 21 per cent of respondents in France hold positive views of Islamic State. Given that France has more than five million Muslims, the social catchment of sympathy for jihad is about one million people. This explains why France has 751 special security zones, an endless sequence of violent incidents involving young Muslim men, anti-Semitic incidents have become routine and Muslims represent 60 per cent of the prison population. Two of the three jihad killers in Paris had served time in prison. France and Australia are linked by the past week's events. Both countries have been drawn into an asymmetrical global jihad, fed by notoriety and thus self-sustaining. In Australia, the pressures are much less severe in the Muslim diaspora but there are self-evident problems. Here is a statistic to ponder: Australian Muslims are statistically more likely to engage in jihad than to enlist in the Australian Defence Forces. As at June 30, 2014, there were 57,036 permanent members in the ADF, plus 24,028 in the reserves. When I asked Defence Media how many ADF personnel were Muslim, I received this response: "As at 26 October, 2014, 100 ADF members have declared they are of Islamic faith … The reporting of religious faith is voluntary and, as such, the data provided may not be a fully accurate representation." With about 500,000 Muslims in Australia, representing 2.1 per cent of the population, there would be about 1200 Muslims in the ADF if they served on a per capita basis. Instead, the number is miniscule, about 0.2 per cent. In contrast, 20 Australian Muslims have been killed in fighting in the Syrian civil war, an estimated 60 are still in the combat zone, another 20 have returned from Syria, and an estimated 100 more have provided support for jihad. These figures are from the federal government. Another 20 Muslims are serving prison terms in Australia for serious terrorism offences or are facing terrorism charges. Two more Muslims, Man Haron Monis and Abdul Numan Haider, were killed during attacks in Australia in which they both invoked Islamic State. Obviously, if 220 Australian Muslims are known to have engaged in jihad or supported jihad, it follows that 500,000 Muslims, or 99.95 per cent, have not. Equally obvious, the diverse Muslim diaspora cannot be treated as a dangerous monolith, given that Muslims are the primary victims of oppression by Muslims and the overwhelming majority of Muslims either prefer the peaceful precepts of the Koran or are not highly religious. But the calculus of terrorism relies on the leveraging of small numbers. It only took three jihadists to occupy 90,000 French police and military personnel, at enormous cost to the state, with enormous global publicity. That will have been duly noted by jihadists. Australia's security agency has thus become extremely busy. Last financial year, ASIO conducted 159,000 security assessments. This helps explain why the Lindt Café killer was taken off the watch list. Because of the leveraging of small numbers, the deaths of 22 Australian Muslims in the cause of jihad represents serious social capital. In per-capita terms, it the equivalent of more than 1000 Australian soldiers being killed in Afghanistan. This dwarfs the death toll of 43 Australian military personnel killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars over the past decade, regarded as a heavy social cost. In these terms, 22 is a large number and 220 is a very large number. LINK:

Tuesday, 13 January 2015


SATIRICAL French publication Charlie Hebdo could not be printed in Australia under existing restrictions on free speech, despite its cartoons being embraced across the world as a symbol of Western liberties after the massacre at its offices. Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson told The Australian the restrictions contained in section 18c of the Racial Discrimin­ation Act would “ensure it would be shut down”; he was supported in this position by media law ­experts. The carnage in Paris has also encouraged two Liberal MPs to publicly call for the debate about changes to section 18c to be re-opened after the government last year unceremoniously dropped its planned reforms following a fierce public backlash. Mr Wilson, dubbed the “freedom commissioner”, has taken aim at opponents of the 18c changes who are now rhetorically embracing free speech, warning that words needed to be backed up with concrete action. Failure to do so would be seen as hypocritical, he said. “The Charlie Hebdo attack is a wake-up call for a lot of people who rhetorically support free speech but when it comes to the nub would choose political ­advantage over sensible reform,” he said. “This is where they have an opportunity to rise to the challenge, like the leaders of Europe are now doing, rather than being held out as hypocrites.” In The Australian today, the chairman of the parliamentary joint committee on human rights, West Australian senator Dean Smith, challenges Tony Abbott and Bill Shorten to support a private senator’s bill proposing a middle pathway forward on an 18c overhaul. The Opposition Leader yesterday indicated he remained unmoved on 18c. “You don’t give the green light to hate speech when in fact it’s hate which is what we’re all ­united against,” he said. Mr Shorten said it was distasteful to turn the events in Paris into a domestic political issue. “It is an inappropriate stretch ... to see government MPs trying to use what happened in Paris to justify divisive debates.” The government has formally ruled out any changes to 18c, saying they are “off the table”. While Mr Wilson argued that many of the religiously themed cartoons in Charlie Hebdo would not fall foul of the discrimination act, he said that racial stereo­typing of Jews and other ethnic groups would create too many legal issues for such a publication to continue in an Australian context. “18c only covers issues of race and ethnic origin, which would cover some of the material but not all of it,” he said. “It would cover Jews and ethnic representations, but it wouldn’t cover Muslims and other bits. In the end, the legal problems would essentially ensure it would be shut down. “I think there are lots of different avenues for reform, but I think there are more issues than just 18c that need to be considered.” Senator Smith threw his support behind Mr Wilson, but urged for a renewed focus on 18c. He is urging both sides of politics to back a private senator’s bill he has co-sponsored with Family First senator Bob Day, Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm and Liberal colleague Cory Bernardi. Senator Smith says the bill could form a “legislative monument to the human price paid by France” and would simply remove the words “offend” and “insult” in a finetuning of 18c. “By agreeing (to the bill) … Tony Abbott and Bill Shorten will have kept the protections against ­‘humiliate’ and ‘intimidate’,” he writes. “Our leaders have read the mood with precision and Tony Abbott is right to remind us to be prepared to ‘speak up for our ­beliefs’ and ‘call things as we see them’. It is now time to crown our words of vigilance with a deed.” Senator Bernardi said he absolutely supported the passage of the bill. Simon Breheny, the director of the legal rights project at the Institute of Public Affairs, told The Australian that Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons certainly “would have been caught in Australia by section 18c of the Racial Discrimin­ation Act”. “Even if it wasn’t caught by section 18c, there is no doubt they would have fallen foul of restrictive state racial and religious vilification laws. This is one of the possible explanations as to why we don’t have any kind of publi­cations in Australia quite like it, because our laws restricting freedom of speech are so severe.” Legal experts also united to suggest that Charlie Hebdo would be unlikely to meet the existing tests enshrined in current Australian law, pointing out that satirical cartoons do not occupy the same status in Australian culture. “You would have a complaint if those sorts of cartoons were to run here,” said Minter Ellison Partner and Fairfax media lawyer in Victoria Peter Bartlett. “I think they would certainly, run up against 18c and we would receive complaints and we would then need to deal with those ­complaints.” Mr Bartlett also warned that there was already “some evidence of self-censoring”, given the ­caution around the existing racial discrimination laws. Justin Quill, a media lawyer used by The Australian, said the publication would have “serious difficulties” and would constantly need to justify its actions. “If someone took action against them — probably more than once — it ultimately would mean that it would be difficult to survive and it could mean it had to be shut down,” he said. “I can easily say I think there would be occasions where it would lose an 18c argument. “It’s easy for those who support 18c to say ‘I think they wouldn’t’. What is clear is that the publication would have to successfully bear the onus of proof in proving their defence.” LINK:


The 12th anti-Islam protest rally took place in the eastern German city of Dresden on Monday night (12 January) drawing its biggest crowd yet as organizers declared the rally a tribute to the victims of the Paris terror attacks. Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the West (Pegida) protesters gathered in the eastern German city were seen carrying banners carrying the names of the journalists killed in the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris. While organisers said an estimated 40,000 people participated in the march, Dresden police quoted the figure at over 25,000 people — a large increase from 18,000 protesters on 5 January. Lutz Bachmann, the founder of the Pegida movement, took to the group's official Facebook account to post a statement saying: "Good evening Dresden, warmly welcome to our 12th walk against religious wars, religious fanaticism and even more for the freedom of expression! "We have stirred up a lot of dust and woken up a considerable part of the population. We have managed to awaken the silence in politics after 50 years on immigration issues, which were discussed only quietly in backrooms. "We are subject of all newspapers and news broadcasts of the world, we are subject of the Christmas and New Year speeches of our political elite. This is a huge success." LINK:


Monday, 12 January 2015

Sunday, 11 January 2015


Thousands of people have marched across cities in France today, in remembrance of the 17 people killed in the Paris attacks. According to police figures, an estimated 30,000 people attended a silent march in the southern French city of Pau, whilst 22,000 people gathered to pay their respects in Orleans, south-west of Paris. Tomorrow's "unity rally" is expected to draw more than the 210,000 people who attended today's marches. According to Sky News, 1 million people are expected to attend tomorrow's rally, which is scheduled to start at 3pm at the Place de la République in central Paris. UK Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, and Russian Foreign Minister Manuel Valls are all expected attend. David Cameron confirmed his attendance through a short message on Twitter. Prime Minister Manuel Valls said: "Sunday, the French people will cry out their love of liberty." Speaking ahead of attending the rally, Valls said: "The rally will be unbelievable, it will remain in the annals of history… It will show the dignity of the French people." Following a security cabinet meeting, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said that France would remain on its highest state of alert "for the next few weeks". In a statement, Cazeneuve admitted: "We are exposed to risk, therefore it's important that the threat alert which was enhanced across the country stays in place for the next few weeks." Ahead of tomorrow's unity rally, Cazeneuve commented: "French people must know all measures have been taken to ensure this demonstration can take place in harmony, respect and of course safety. For those who want to attend it, they can attend in all safety." Cazeneuve confirmed that snipers would be stationed on roofs, and parking for all vehicles on the march's two routes will be closed from noon. LINK:


Theodoor "Theo" van Gogh (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈteːjoː vɑŋ ˈɣɔx];[1] 23 July 1957 – 2 November 2004) was a Dutch film director, film producer, columnist, author and actor. Van Gogh worked with the Somali-born writer and politician Ayaan Hirsi Ali to produce the short film Submission (2004), which criticized the treatment of women in Islam. Many Muslims took offence at its criticism. On 2 November 2004 Van Gogh was murdered by Mohammed Bouyeri, a Dutch-Moroccan Muslim. The last film Van Gogh had completed before his death, 06/05, was a fictional exploration of the assassination of Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn.



Thursday, 8 January 2015















Paris (AFP) - A new book imagining a future France coming under Islamic rule hits French bookshops on Wednesday in a literary sweep likely to fuel creeping European angst about Muslim immigration. The novel, "Soumission" ("Submission"), is guaranteed to become an instant bestseller because of its author: Michel Houellebecq, a star French writer who has found worldwide fame with cynical works portraying an imploding society with dry humour and graphic sexuality. But its concept -- of an Islamic government emerging from 2022 French elections ditching traditional parties for the far-right National Front and a new Muslim Brotherhood-styled party -- touches on real-life themes already simmering in France, Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and other EU nations. An influx of mostly Muslim immigrants, many fleeing conflicts in Syria, Sudan and elsewhere, at a time of European economic malaise has increased Europeans' fears that their cultures are under assault and strengthened the hand of anti-immigrant far-right parties. It matters little that Houellebecq himself has admitted to the Paris Review that the book's scenario for France is "not very realistic", at least not for "several decades", it has already become a hot talking point. French President Francois Hollande told France Inter radio on Monday, "I'll read it because it's creating debate," but carefully stressed that it was just "literature" and "the idea of submersion, of invasion, of submission is an old idea". But others see "Soumission" filling the sails of Europe's far-right. The arrival of the book, said Laurent Joffrin, chief editor of the left-leaning daily Liberation, "will mark the date in the history of ideas on which the ideas of the extreme-right made their entrance in high literature". The head of France's National Front, Marine Le Pen, told France Info radio on Monday that while the book was fiction, "it's a fiction that could one day become reality". - The French Republic 'is dead' - The initial print run in France for "Soumission" is 150,000 copies, a significant number for the country's market. German and Italian translations of the book will be released mid-January. No date has yet been given for the English-language version. Houellebecq is clearly enjoying the attention his sixth novel is getting, although he states that he is politically "neutral" in the debate around it. "Today, atheism is dead. Secularism is dead. The (French) Republic is dead," he told the French news magazine L'Obs in an interview to be published Thursday. "The Muslims are... closer to the right, even to the extreme right," he argued. "Who can they vote for, the Muslims of France? They can't vote for the (ruling) Socialists who put in place gay marriages. They aren't going to vote for those on the right either, who want to kick them out. The only solution then is the establishment of a Muslim party." France has been grappling in recent years with how to integrate its Muslim population -- the biggest in Europe, estimated at up to 10 percent of the country's 65 million inhabitants. In 2010 France prohibited face-covering Islamic headwear in public places, a ban upheld by the European Court of Human Rights last year. In 2005, riots erupted in several poor Paris suburbs with large, disaffected Muslim populations. LINK:



"It just so happens I'm more likely to get run over by a bicycle in Paris than get assassinated," the cartoonist and editor of Charlie Hebdo, Stephane Charbonnier, told the Los Angeles Times in 2013. He now lies dead, along with 11 others, victims of an attack on the satirical magazine he headed in Paris, shot dead by gunmen, one of whom yelled as he went about his murder, "We have avenged the Prophet Mohammed." Charbonnier, or Charb, as he was known, was used to death threats. He was under police protection, but he told Le Monde, the French newspaper, that as a single man he did not fear retaliation, and that he would rather "die standing than live on my knees". Charlie Hebdo's mission was to mock those institutions and individuals that had declared themselves to be above mockery. Among its favoured targets was religion. Charlie Hebdo has savaged the Catholic Church, been accused of anti-Semitism and relentlessly satirised Islamic extremism. "We want to laugh at the extremists — every extremist. They can be Muslim, Jewish, Catholic. Everyone can be religious, but extremist thoughts and acts we cannot accept," Laurent Léger, a journalist at Charlie Hebdo, told CNN in 2012. Charlie Hebdo evolved from a satirical magazine of the 1970s and emerged in its current form in 1992. It has never had a huge circulation but has been well known for its provocative cartoons. In 2006 it reprinted the controversial cartoons depicting Islam and Mohammed first published by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten. While many publications around the world reported on the issue without touching the cartoons, Charlie Hebdo not only reprinted all 12, but added some new ones of its own. Charb rejected a statement from the then-French president Jacques Chirac that "Anything that can hurt the convictions of someone else, in particular religious convictions, should be avoided. Freedom of expression should be exercised in a spirit of responsibility" and in 2011 announced an issue to be guest edited by the Prophet Mohammed. Readers were warned: "100 lashes if you don't die of laughter!" Charlie Hebdo's offices were then firebombed and destroyed. The following year the online release of an amateur film called The Innocence of Muslims prompted riots by Islamic extremists around the world. Over 50 deaths have been attributed to the protests, and fury over the film is thought to have been partly responsible for the attack on a US diplomatic outpost in Libya that cost the lives of four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens. Charlie Hebdo responded by publishing two more cartoons including depictions of Mohammed. Police asked Charb to reconsider, the editor refused and France closed 20 foreign outposts around the world. Many French publications, and the Catholic Church, condemned Charb's decision to publish as irresponsible. Laurent Fabius, France's Foreign Minister, said on public radio, "In the present context, given this absurd video that has been aired, strong emotions have been awakened in many Muslim countries… Is it really sensible or intelligent to pour oil on the fire?" Charb was typically unbowed. "I don't feel as though I'm killing someone with a pen," he told Le Monde. I'm not putting lives at risk. When activists need a pretext to justify their violence, they always find it." In fact Charb believed it was not his publication's content that provoked savagery, but its determination. "It's not exactly our drawings that have power, it's our stubbornness — a stubbornness to continue doing what we feel like doing, through drawing ... It comes from the fact that I have nothing else," he told the LA Times. "The only thing we have is our freedom of speech. If we give up on that, we'd need to change fields. Do other things." LINK:


Gunmen have shot dead 12 people at the Paris office of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in an apparent militant Islamist attack. Four of the magazine's well-known cartoonists, including its editor, were among those killed, as well as two police officers. A major police operation is under way to find three gunmen who fled by car. President Francois Hollande said there was no doubt it had been a terrorist attack "of exceptional barbarity". It is believed to be the deadliest attack in France since 1961, when right-wingers who wanted to keep Algeria French bombed a train, killing 28 people. The masked attackers opened fire with assault rifles in the office and exchanged shots with police in the street outside before escaping by car. They later abandoned the car in Rue de Meaux, northern Paris, where they hijacked a second car. Death threats Witnesses said they heard the gunmen shouting "We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad" and "God is Great" in Arabic ("Allahu Akbar"). The number of attackers was initially reported to be two, but French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve later said security services were hunting three "criminals". He said that Paris had been placed on the highest alert. Charlie Hebdo editor Stephane Charbonnier, 47, had received death threats in the past and was living under police protection. French media have named the three other cartoonists killed in the attack as Cabu, Tignous and Wolinski, as well as Charlie Hebdo contributor and French economist Bernard Maris. The attack took place during the magazine's daily editorial meeting. At least four people were critically wounded in the attack. The satirical weekly has courted controversy in the past with its irreverent take on news and current affairs. It was firebombed in November 2011 a day after it carried a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad. Global condemnation The latest tweet on Charlie Hebdo's account was a cartoon of the Islamic State militant group leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Charlie Hebdo's website, which went offline during the attack, is showing the single image of "Je suis Charlie" ("I am Charlie) on a black banner, referring to a hashtag that is trending on Twitter in solidarity with the victims. People had been "murdered in a cowardly manner", President Hollande told reporters at the scene. "We are threatened because we are a country of liberty," he added, appealing for national unity. French government officials are holding an emergency meeting, and President Hollande is due to give a televised address later. US President Barack Obama has condemned the "horrific shooting", offering to provide any assistance needed "to help bring these terrorists to justice". UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said: "It was a horrendous, unjustifiable and cold-blooded crime. It was also a direct assault on a cornerstone of democracy, on the media and on freedom of expression." UK Prime Minister David Cameron said in a tweet: "The murders in Paris are sickening. We stand with the French people in the fight against terror and defending the freedom of the press." The Arab League and Al-Azhar mosque, Egypt's top Islamic institution, have also condemned the attack. Analysis: Hugh Schofield, BBC News, Paris Charlie Hebdo is part of a venerable tradition in French journalism going back to the scandal sheets that denounced Marie-Antoinette in the run-up to the French Revolution. The tradition combines left-wing radicalism with a provocative scurrility that often borders on the obscene. Its decision to mock the Prophet Muhammad in 2011 was entirely consistent with its historic raison d'etre. The paper has never sold in enormous numbers - and for 10 years from 1981, it ceased publication for lack of resources. But with its garish front-page cartoons and incendiary headlines, it is an unmissable staple of newspaper kiosks and railway station booksellers. 'Blood everywhere' Footage shot by an eyewitness outside the magazine's office shows two armed men dressed in black approach a wounded police officer lying on a pavement. One of the men shoots the officer in the head, before both men are seen running back towards a black vehicle and driving away. Eyewitnesses described seeing two black-hooded men entering the building carrying Kalashnikovs, with reports of up to 50 shots fired. Gilles Boulanger, who works in the same building as the office, told French TV channel Itele: "There were several shots heard in the building from automatic weapons firing in all directions. So then we looked out of the window and saw the shooting was on Boulevard Richard-Lenoir, with the police. It was really upsetting. You'd think it was a war zone." Wandrille Lanos, a TV reporter who works across the road, was one of the first people to enter the Charlie Hebdo office after the attack. "As we progressed into the office, we saw that the number of casualties was very high. There was a lot of people dead on the floor, and there was blood everywhere," he told the BBC. After the attack, which occurred at about 10:30 GMT, police warned French media outlets to be on alert and pay attention to security. The country was already on the alert for Islamist militant attacks after several incidents just before Christmas. Cars were driven at shoppers in two cities, Dijon and Nantes, and police were attacked by a man wielding a knife in Tours. While the French government denied the attacks were linked, it announced plans to further raise security in public spaces, including the deployment of about 300 soldiers. Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, which published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in 2005 sparking riots in Muslim countries, says it has stepped up security in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attack. LINK:


The UK Army Reservists from 7th Battalion The Rifles have participated in Exercise Viking Star with the Royal Danish Army personnel in Denmark, to prepare for future operations. Involving 120 7th Rifles personnel, the fortnight-long drill briefed the participants on Danish rules of engagement and instruction, gradually escalating proportionate force in response to any developing situation. The reservists were also introduced to the Danish battlefield training system, which involved use of non-lethal training ammunition, also called simunition, in attacks against protected enemy forces. During the exercise, sections of riflemen under the control of Danish non-commissioned officers (NCOs) were deployed to multiple locations across the Jutland region, with differing guard response requirements. The 7th Rifles commanding officer lieutenant colonel James Bryant said: ''In the future, we can expect to work on operations together and, although there may be differences between the Danes and the British reserve forces, they are all soldiers at the end of the day and have the same core bond.'' Initiated in 2012, Exercise Viking Star is aimed at offering reserve forces the experience of deploying abroad to work alongside foreign forces in a complex urban environment. The drill is one of several new overseas training exercises that have been made available to the Reserves following announcements of the UK Ministry of Defence's (MoD) Army 2020 structure, which seeks cuts to the full-time force and increase in reservists numbers, to help the country better address security challenges of the 2020s and beyond.

Monday, 5 January 2015


Thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets of Germany in recent weeks to protest the “Islamisation of the West”, shocking the country and drawing condemnation from Chancellor Angela Merkel. Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West (PEGIDA) started weekly protests in the eastern city of Dresden in October, and the movement has been growing steadily ever since with regular Monday demonstrations. On December 22, 17,500 took to the streets of Dresden chanting “We are the people”, a slogan borrowed from 1989 protests in the same city that led to the fall of the Berlin Wall. Worryingly for Germany’s leaders, a Forsa opinion for “Stern” magazine last week revealed that one in eight Germans would join an anti-Muslim march if PEGIDA organised one in their home town. In an unusually strong-worded New Year’s day address, Merkel said: “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.” "So I say to everyone who goes to such demonstrations: Do not follow those who are appealing to you! Because too often there is prejudice, coldness, even hatred, in their hearts." Pensioners ‘cannot afford Christmas cake’ PEGIDA is supported by a motley array of extreme right and neo-Nazi groups, football hooligans and notably the anti-euro (although not anti-EU) Alternative for Germany (AfD) movement. PEDIGA is led by Lutz Bachmann, a 41-year-old photographer and graphic designer who said in October he was appalled to see TV reports of Kurds and Muslim groups fighting on the streets of Hamburg. Bachmann used his network of far-right contacts to organise anti-Islam protests in response. The first of these took place in Dresden on October 20, a relatively small demonstration that attracted around 500 protesters. Dresden is an odd location for the first protest, as the city itself has a rather small immigrant and refugee population. Just 2.5 percent of the 530,000 residents are foreign. Bachmann has taken his new platform to vocally voice his opposition to foreigners in Germany, stating that the burden on the welfare state is leaving pensioners “unable to afford a slice of Christmas cake”. Bachmann’s opponents have been keen to highlight his chequered past – PEGIDA’s leader has been imprisoned on a number of occasions for burglary, theft, and dealing cocaine. But he dismisses his criminal record as a series of “minor offences” And national immigration figures have made an impression on this eastern city which is no stranger to far-right politics since reunification in the early 1990s. OECD figures published in December demonstrate that Germany received 400,000 immigrants in 2012, a figure that makes Germany Europe’s biggest immigrant destination. All this feeds into the hands of PEGIDA, and the protest movement has spread rapidly to other German cities. Germany reacts to the reactionaries But many in Germany are staging their own protests against this resurgence of far-right politics. On December 22, while thousands demonstrated under the PEGIDA flag in Dresden, thousands more took to the streets of other German cities – including 12,000 in Munich – against racism and Islamophobia. And a demonstration scheduled for Monday January 5 will see one of Germany’s most famous landmarks, Cologne Cathedral, plunged into darkness in protest at a planned PEGIDA march through the city due to end with a rally next to the cathedral. Cathedral Dean Norbert Feldhoff told Reuters: “PEGIDA is made up of an astonishingly broad mix of people, ranging from those in the middle of society to racists and the extreme right-wing. “By switching off the floodlighting we want to make those on the march stop and think. It is a challenge: consider who you are marching alongside.”


Sitting on a wooden bench on a Dresden square with his jacket collar turned up against a cold evening wind, a retiree in his mid-sixties with a dog by his side starts a conversation with a couple in their early thirties. “I used the dog as an excuse to take a look at what’s going on here,” he says, squinting and drawing on a cigarette. “I’m not a political animal at all. The wife doesn’t know I’m here.” The man and woman, dressed in cashmere scarves and coats by a popular outdoor clothing brand, seek to reassure the newcomer. “This is our third time. We were nervous at first until we realised how many other people like us were here, demanding a proper asylum policy, one that doesn’t disadvantage native Germans,” the woman says. The pensioner’s mind seems to have been put at ease. When the protest started moving through the city, eerily silent – at the explicit request of organisers – he and his Jack Russell join in. The encounter (none of those involved wished to give their names) occurred at the sidelines of a recent rally organised by Pegida, or Patriotische Europäer gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes (Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the west), a populist anti-immigrant movement that has been galvanising support in Germany for several months but has convulsed the city of Dresden in particular. Having begun on Facebook, on Monday it will hold its 11th demonstration in the baroque city and it is estimated that more than 20,000 will attend. As the movement spreads across Germany and even into other parts of Europe – Sweden, Austria and Switzerland – politicians of the country’s mainstream parties are on alert. As the group grows in stature, so too does opposition to it. On Monday the lights of Cologne cathedral will be turned off in a mark of the church’s disapproval of a Pegida rally there, which is expected to bring thousands on to the streets. Pegida participants feel buoyed by the fact they are part of a growing movement across Europe of voters who feel that mainstream politicians are far too lenient on immigration. At a typical Pegida rally, supporters talk of their anger that Germany is being overrun by Muslim immigrants; they say many are criminals who need to be deported immediately and they call for an obligatory integration programme. Banner slogans read: “We want our homeland back” and “Send the criminal asylum seekers packing”. Fears among chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative alliance were already rife that it is losing considerable support to the budding Eurosceptic, and ever more anti-immigration, Alternative für Deutschland party (AfD). Merkel herself has been accused of creating a vacuum on the right due to her consensus style of politics, which the AfD, and now Pegida – to whom the AfD has openly given its backing – have willingly managed to fill. The growth of Pegida has only increased calls for the government to tighten asylum rules and speed up the deportation process to appease voters. With so much pressure from within her own ranks, Merkel’s hard-hitting reaction to the group last week was therefore bold and surprising. “I say to all those who go to such demonstrations: do not follow those who have called the rallies, because all too often they have prejudice, a chilliness, even hatred in their hearts,” she said in her televised address to the German people. Merkel, who has previously warned Pegida followers against allowing themselves to be manipulated by the organisers, with remarks that seemed like thinly veiled references to the Pied Piper of Hamelin, was also full of condemnation for their misuse of the slogan “Wir sind das Volk” (We are the people). The punchy phrase was adopted by East German anti-communist demonstrators in the runup to the fall of the Berlin Wall, and now punctuates Pegida rallies at regular intervals. But, said Merkel, who spent the first 35 years of her life under communism, far from being an expression of the wish to unite, as it was in 1989, the phrase was now being used to divide. “What they really mean is ‘you are not one of us’, because of your skin colour or your religion,” she said. The precipitous rise of Pegida has shaken Germany’s main parties to the core and prompted an acrimonious debate at a time when Europe’s biggest economy is straining to deal with a record intake of more than 200,000 asylum seekers in 2014 – mainly from Iraq and Syria – a figure higher than any other country in Europe and which is due to rise considerably this year. Merkel’s condemnation of the group gives voice to growing concern among established parties in Europe about the impact immigration is having on domestic politics, in what will be a crucial election year across the continent. This week Merkel will travel to London for talks with David Cameron. While the main thrust of their discussions will be on Russia and Ukraine and the economy, the two will probably not be able to avoid talking about the rise of parties such as Ukip and AfD/Pegida, or Cameron’s plans to curb migration from Europe as he seeks to renegotiate the terms of the UK’s EU membership. Merkel will visit the British Museum’s exhibition, Germany: Memories of a Nation, a trawl through 600 years of German history, which inevitably gives space to the war – one of the most striking exhibits is the gate of Buchenwald concentration camp – and will further remind Merkel why immigration is so important for her country’s image of itself as a modern, progressive and welcoming land. But it is an image that is under threat. Monday’s Pegida demonstration will be extremely closely observed, by everyone from constitutional experts to sociologists and experts in neo-Nazism. The questions most frequently addressed are what has prompted Pegida and how it can be dealt with. To condemn it means potentially isolating voters and fuelling the movement even more. But to ignore what is after all still a fledgling movement with no mandate seems too perilous a position for German politicians duty-bound to keep in mind the country’s Nazi past. Already there are suggestions, so far unfounded, of a link between the recent apparent arson attack on a hostel for asylum seekers near Nuremberg, which was daubed with swastikas and anti-immigration slogans, and a pre-Christmas graffiti onslaught on a mosque in Dormagen in North Rhine-Westphalia, which was also smeared with swastikas and slogans such as “Get yourself to concentration camp” and “Waffen SS”. Such incidents have only served to stoke the tension. Of particular concern are the numbers of participants at Pegida rallies who have far-right connections. Its followers include known neo-Nazis, including members of the National Democratic party (NPD), which until recently had seats in the regional parliament, and at least two football hooligan organisations called Faust des Ostens (Fist of the East) and Hooligans Elbflorenz (Florence of the Elbe Hooligans). At the demonstrations they mix with middle- and working-class Germans. The rules everyone is apparently asked to abide by are: don’t drink, don’t be violent, don’t talk to the press, and walk in silence, on what are euphemistically referred to as the group’s “evening strolls”. Before Christmas it held a carol service in front of Dresden’s opera house. “We are here to assert our rights,” says one middle-aged woman. “Germany feels like a foreign country. We’ll be obliged to read the Qur’an before long,” she jokes to her companion. But immigrants in the state of Saxony, of which Dresden is the capital, make up just 2.8% of a population of 4 million (compared to around 14% in Berlin). Just 0.1% of those are Muslims. Why does she feel so alienated? “Well, we look at cities like Berlin and Hamburg, and we think: we must avoid such scenarios here,” she explains. Her companion, a man in his fifties, also refused to give his name to the “Lugen Presse” (liar press, a term coined by the Nazis and frequently chanted at Pegida events), but is quick to add: “We’ve nothing against helping foreigners in need, like those poor people in Syria, but we should be helping them in their own country, not bringing them over here.” The demonstrations feel like an invitation for anyone to voice any grievance. They are said to attract Germany’s growing number of so-called “Wutbürger” or angry citizens. Alongside people campaigning against factory-farmed chickens are those calling for the abolition of the television licence or protesting against Nato’s “aggressive stance” towards Russia. Some plead for the return of their “Heimat” or homeland from the grip of foreigners. One man, carrying a large German flag which flaps in the wind, is heard greeting his friends with “Heil Deutschland” to be met by peals of laughter. At the centre of it all is Lutz Bachmann, a 41-year-old former sausage vendor turned advertising agent, whose Facebook page boasts of his pet Jack Russell, Bärbli, and his honeymoon in the Dominican Republic. He prompts much applause and laughter from his audiences as he addresses them from a mobile caravan. “Germany is not a land of immigration,” he tells the crowd. Dressed in a parka and sporting a stubbly beard, he calls on those who he says have been sacked from their jobs for belonging to Pegida to show courage, and dismisses those who have called the demonstrators “losers” or described them as being full of Abstiegangst (the fear of descending the social ladder). “No,” he says. “We just want Germany to stay German!” Bachmann, the son of a Dresden butcher, has a criminal record for breaking and entering and drug possession, for which he was sentenced to 44 months in prison. He fled to South Africa, but was deported to Germany two years later. The affair is dismissed by his supporters, despite their frequent references to “criminal asylum seekers”. “It’s not like he killed anyone or abused a child,” one female rally participant says. “We all have pasts that we have to live with,” says another. Across Germany, counter demonstrations have been held every Monday to coincide with Pegida’s gatherings. In Munich last week cultural figureheads drew a crowd of 12,000 under the banner “New York, Rio, Rosenheim – the World is Large Enough”, who together sang Beethoven’s Ode to Joy. The anti-Pegida voice is keen to stress that Germany is in danger of losing a reputation it has established over the past decades which reached its apogee first when Germany hosted the World Cup in 2006, and again last summer when the national team won the championship. “When we won the World Cup, it felt great to be able to fly the German flag with a certain pride again, without feeling embarrassed for the war and all that,” says Julia Schenck, 32, a psychologist taking part in a recent counter-demonstration in Dresden. “People outside Germany were celebrating our openness and warm-heartedness. But it feels now like we’re regressing. There are many people who would like Germany to return to the era around about the 1950s before we were a land of immigration.” But others argue the situation is far more positive, and that Pegida has emerged as a side-effect of a growing sense of German empathy and solidarity towards outsiders, as immigration charities report a surge in contributions, and as increasing numbers of small German towns and villages, and many private households, take in refugees, many for the first time since the second world war. “We’re seeing a growing emotional willingness among people in Germany to help others who are in need,” says Heinz Bude, a leading macro-sociologist at Kassel University. “The decisive question being asked by many right now is, do we just want to stubbornly focus on our own interests or, as the richest, perhaps also most powerful, society in Europe, are we willing to be generous towards others and to offer them help?” Many are choosing the latter, he suggests, and Pegida is just the “response to the new-found spirit of hospitality”.