With French flags, Pegida demonstrators observed a minute of silence. 25,000 are said to have come – more than ever before.
Punctuation is overrated: "Mrs. Merkel here is the people!" Image: dpa
There is a certain satisfaction that Lutz Bachmann radiates in the face of the people at his feet. The wind sweeps from Dresden’s city hall tower over to Lingnerallee, where the "12th Great Evening Walk" of Dresden’s Pegida begins. An asphalt skate park with a half pipe and a course is the meeting place of the "patriotic Europeans" today.
The conditions of the police: no alcohol, no dogs (except guide dogs) and no sharp objects. Flagpoles are not part of it. They are expressly desired. "For Dresden tomorrow, show the flag!" – the Orga team recommended on Facebook in addition to the funeral flor, which was requested this time.
And so white-green Saxony, Brandenburg, Thuringia, North Rhine-Westphalia, Bavaria flags are flying, in between and on top all kinds of eagles, but also some Russian and French flags. And so the Pegida evening walk looks a bit like a parade. But it is not yet so far. The "walkers" crowd the skater asphalt, many flagpoles have to be tamed by their bearers with both fists, so that everything looks a bit more determined.
Lutz Bachmann, who had kept a low profile last Monday, senses this and, by now routinely, commands the crowds of flags and people. He praises the courage and steadfastness of the demonstrators. He thanks the police ("You are great!"). He calls for a "minute of remembrance for all victims of religious violence," especially for the dead of Paris and Nigeria, which is scrupulously observed by the thousands.
Flag waving and jeering
Lutz Bachmann, a convicted felon, has what it takes to be the people’s tribune here. Half statist, half populist, his voice is already hammering across the square again. He generously addresses the press. After all, they are standing here because of them. The newspapers could publish anti-Pegida caricatures. Pegida will not take action against them. It would be different "if the laws of Sharia were to gain a foothold on European soil. Flag waving and jeering. He tries to stop the shouts of the lying press, however. They seem inappropriate to him a few days after the attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris.
Bachmann sums up: "We have made it. We and our issues are the main topic everywhere in the world!" Applause and flag waving. Six demands follow: an immigration law based on the examples of Canada and Switzerland, the obligation to integrate, the consistent expulsion of Islamists, referendums at the federal level, an end to warmongering – "Especially against Russia!" – and more money for the police.
Pegida is making concrete demands for the first time, Lutz Bachmann has announced them. Applause. Flag waving. Then, "We are the people! We are the people!" That’s when some people – many of them belonging to the older age groups – make their voices heard. The old battle cry, which taught the SED to be afraid, resounds from the mouths fresh and powerful as in October 1989. It thunders out, breaks on the walls of the buildings, rolls over, comes back.
It seems like a cauldron, lit by lanterns and police searchlights. But the call resounds out into a changed world that must seem like a madhouse to some here: Globalization, the euro crisis, refugees, Islamism, jihad, Sharia law, terror. Next to the stage, someone holds up a sign like a cry for help: "Enough is enough.
What he votes for: the AfD
"Fear! Real fear!" That’s what drives him here, says an older man. "And that the politicians don’t represent us anymore," he adds. Then he fingers a handwritten note from his jacket. "Here: Sigmar Gabriel calls on Pegida to distance itself from violence." The gentleman is stunned. "I am so disappointed! Who would have thought it would come to this?" He had come from Ottendorf-Okrilla, east of Dresden, he said. It’s where Pegida got its start. So what did he vote for in the state elections last August? – "A party that got almost 10 percent." – The AfD? He nods.
Mr. Furth is 72 years old. He said he had been at sea for thirty years and had experienced all the countries of Islam and summarized his fears thus: "I don’t want my granddaughters to have to wear headscarves or veils." Moreover, he says, the right of asylum has been eroded. People no longer dare to go out on the street in the evening for fear of being harassed, he says. Mr. Furth lives in a town with 11,000 inhabitants in the Ore Mountains.
A pensioner from Konigstein in Saxon Switzerland, who worked as a teacher, has other things on her mind. "We have no peace treaty and no constitution," she says firmly. In any case, she says, the Basic Law is not a constitution, and the Allies must leave Germany, just as the Russians did twenty years ago. "We cannot develop sovereignly," she laments. Where does she get the information? She no longer uses newspapers or television.
It obtains its information from the Internet, primarily from bewusst.tv and quer-denken.tv. Both Internet broadcasters are currently ventilating that the Paris attack could have been a staging. In Russia, this has been an ongoing topic for days. Otherwise, she informs herself about alternative healing methods. Then she says that asylum seekers should be cared for more properly: "They’re scared, too!" She listens to the speech in a woolen cap and anorak.
The train is diverted
And Kathrin Oertel, the Pegida press spokeswoman who has now taken over the mike from Lutz Bachmann, has to deal with a personal disappointment. "Dear Mr. Roland Kaiser! We go to your concerts and pay for it." The pop singer had taken the liberty of speaking at the anti-Pegida demonstration on Saturday, to the great indignation of Kathrin Oertel. "Santa Maria," Kaiser’s catchy tune from the seventies, may have faded away for her forever.
"The state power is beginning to tremble …", someone dictates busily into the phone. By then the speeches had faded away. With wind and a few degrees above zero, however, others are shivering first, and some are glad when the "walk" through the city finally begins. Because of a sit-in blockade by counter-demonstrators, the procession is diverted. A total of 7,000 are supposed to demonstrate against Pegida. At "Karstadt" one is within earshot and sight. There are exchanges of words. For the first time, the Pegida participant numbers diverge.
The organizers name 40,000 participants, the police count 25,000 participants. In Leipzig, the ratios are roughly reversed, with 4,800 Legida supporters, the Leipzig Pegida variant, facing around 30,000 opponents, according to the city administration. Across Germany, the total is said to have been 100,000, according to Deutsche Presse-Agentur. Dresden, on the other hand, remains the Pegida stronghold. For the state capital, it is the largest Pegida walk – with flags, a little mourning flor and also a sign "Je suis Charlie".
One could also have silently expressed one’s mourning at the French Cultural Center at City Hall, which Pegida circled. The Institut francais on Kreuzstrasse commemorated the dead cartoonist in a window display with candles, photos and caricatures. Until the evening, three Dresdeners have signed the book of condolence.