The German anti-Islam party PEGIDA has joined forces with a coalition of fellow anti-immigrant parties across Europe following a meeting in Prague. They have agreed to take part in protests in February, while also warning of the “Islamization” of Europe.
The far-right coalition signed a joint declaration over the weekend which they say is a commitment to oppose immigration, especially amongst those practising Islam. The groups, who call themselves “Fortress Europe,” say they are opposed to “Political Islam” and Islamic governments, who they believe are an “enemy” of Europe.
Leading PEGIDA activist Tatijana Festerling was deeply critical of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s policy of welcoming refugees, saying it was a cautionary tale for the rest of Europe.
“Merkel is growing a massive surplus of men in Germany," Festerling said, referring to the fact that most of the 1.1 million asylum seekers arriving in Germany last year were male, Deutsche Welle reports.
The coalition of anti-immigrant groups plans to hold mass demonstrations across the EU on February 6. Marek Cernoch, the chairman of the Czech party Usvit, which hosted the meeting in the town of Roztoky, told Sputnik that the groups will also decide how to make sure that incidents such as the mass sexual assaults in Cologne on New Year’s Eve are not repeated.
"We will demand the strictest measures against migrants; we want to defend our women and children, all Europeans from them!" Cernoch told Sputnik.
The politician also added that the far-right movement was upset with the way that the situation had been handled by EU lawmakers and the media.
"What do we see? Recently, Brussels' diplomatic head Mogherini visited Prague. And we heard that the mass violence in Cologne was not an emergency [and] 'things like that happen all the time.’ [The] German and European media in fact belittle the tragedy of [the] actions committed by [these] visiting vandals," Cernoch added.
PEGIDA has carried out a number of demonstrations since the Cologne events, where 1,049 people said they were the victims of attacks allegedly carried out by men from North Africa and the Middle East. Just under half of the complaints recorded were of a sexual nature, according to Die Welt. On January 9, German police used water cannon to disperse around 1,700 demonstrators aligned to the anti-immigration movement.
Thirty suspects have been identified by police in relation to the attacks, with 25 coming from Morocco and Algeria. Fifteen suspects are asylum-seekers, including two unaccompanied minors. According to police, none of them were Cologne residents and 11 people were living in Germany illegally.
Merkel’s popularity is suffering according to a recent German poll that showed support for the CDU/CSU bloc was down by 2 percent. However, the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party is surging, seeing support rise from 1 percent to 10 percent. The Emnid survey was carried out last week for the Bild am Sonntag newspaper.
The AfD caused controversy in Germany at the weekend, after a spokesperson for the party, Beatrix von Storch, said that Chancellor Merkel should "go into exile to Chile or South America" for fear of violent reprisals following the implementation of her refugee policy.