While We Were Suising Charlie...

Yeah, we were having a great time, supporting Charlie Hebdo, maybe marching or at least tweeting about it, we were making very strange bedfellows with those gals and fellows up there. They're from the German anti-immigrant, anti-Islam Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West (or Pegida, for German reasons). And that's from a rally on Monday in Dresden where 25,000 pro-Pegida marchers rallied as a response to the murders of the Charlie Hebdo staff, who, you know, were killed by Muslim extremists. The rally happened after politicians urged people not to march with Pegida. But march they did.

And this wasn't just wild-eyed skinheads and Nazi nostalgia-mongers: "The Pegida rally Monday drew all kinds of people, with businessmen and families marching down the streets of Dresden alongside known activists of the National Democratic Party, the far-right, allegedly neo-Nazi party that led similar marches in the 1990s." The last weekly rally drew 7,000. One earlier march had attracted 18,000 people.  Another is scheduled for Monday.

Pegida began just three months ago, and it has already attracted thousands of followers (yes, yes, we all know "who else attracted lots of German followers," ha-ha, shut the fuck up) with the philosophy of "You know all those Mooslems coming here? They scary." Or, as the group's Facebook page shouts, "As a society, we should give people the chance to integrate, but we should not allow ourselves to be Islamized thereby losing our freedom and democracy!" And they don't like to be called a certain dirty word: "It is clear that people will accuse us of being Nazis. But why should we make it easy for them rather than being clear about where we stand from the beginning: PATRIOTIC and not Nazi!"

A recent poll showed that "one in eight Germans would join an anti-Islamization march if it were organized in their home town" and that 29% "believed that Islam was having such a strong influence on life in Germany that the marches were justified." Let's put this in context: the Tea Party doesn't enjoy that much support in the United States, yet look at all the power it has here.

However, the group is not yet a political force, and it seems to be located mostly in Dresden, which was part of East Germany back in the day. There have been substantial counterprotests, with thousands of participants. Chancellor Angela Merkel, pictured above in a hijab, has said the right things, proclaiming that "xenophobia, racism and extremism have no place in this country" and that Pegida is made up of "racists full of hatred." But she still has to deal with the 1.2 million immigrants who came into Germany last year, many of whom are refugees from conflict in places like Syria. Pegida has said it supports anyone who comes to the country from a war-torn region.

Still, it's hard not to be vaguely concerned when, on Monday, during the march, Khaled Idris Bahraya, 20 year-old Muslim refugee from the conflict in the Sudan, was stabbed to death near his apartment in Dresden. Three days before the murder, someone had drawn a swastika on the door where Bahraya lived with seven other asylum-seekers. A message with the symbol read, "We'll get you all."

Pegida members are aghast that they are being accused of having anything to do with the murder or with inspiring it in any way. Perhaps they can wear shirts on Monday that say, "Je suis Khaled."

(Note: The point here isn't that we shouldn't march or support free speech just because of who you might end up marching with. Hell, the Rude Pundit says that these racist Schweins have every right to spout their racism. This is more of an informative post: hey, while you were defending free speech in France, look what else was happening just down the road that will have an impact on what you're defending.)