Scuffles have broken out after about 1,600 people demonstrated against a rally held by a group opposing the building of a mosque in the German city of Cologne. The rally, held by Pro Koeln, a right-wing group, led to violence after left-wing demonstrators demanded entry to it on Saturday, saying it had been described as a public event. Wolfgang Baldes, a police spokesman, said: “There were minor scuffles. “We’ve not allowed some of the protesters to get into the square … police intervened and secured a distance. “We have more than 5,000 policemen here for the weekend, we are well prepared.” ‘Racism and agitation’ The counter-demonstration by hundreds of left-wing protesters, members of church groups, trade unions and the Green party came after about 200 people turned out for the Pro Klein rally. “Today we’re sending a signal that democrats stand united against right-wing radicalism, racism and agitation,” Reinhard Bütikofer, the former head of the Green party, said.
Tens of thousands of people are expected to take to the streets of the German city of Cologne next month to protest a planned Islamophobic conference, news reports said Tuesday. Around 40,000 demonstrators are scheduled to voice outrage over the so-called ‘Anti-Islamization Congress’ due to take place from September 19-21 in Cologne. A wide spectrum of nationwide civic groups, among them labour, student, church and anti-racial groups, are due to join the protests and mass blockades.
Efforts to ban the event which will be hosted by the far-right group ‘Pro Koeln’, failed because of legal reasons, Cologne Police President Klaus Steffenhagen said. ‘Pro Koeln’ which is being observed by Germany’s domestic Verfassungsschutz intelligence agency, has invited around 1,000 right- wing extremists to the controversial meeting in Cologne, including leading far-right politicians from the US, France, Austria, Belgium, Britain, Spain and Italy. A major focus of ‘Pro Koeln’ has been its contentious opposition to the planned construction of a central mosque for Cologne’s nearly 150,000-strong Muslim community.
Full-text article continues here. (Some news sites may require registration)
A well-known Holocaust survivor has said he strongly opposes the international anti-Islam conference slated to take place in Germany next month, despite his critical stance on Islam. German Jewish writer and Holocaust survivor Ralph Giordano has come out strongly against the planned so-called Anti-Islamization Congress — a meeting of extreme-right European political forces — planned for Sept. 19-20 in Cologne. The right-wing extremist groups Pro Koeln and Pro NRW are organizing the event, with the aim of issuing a declaration opposed to the purported “Islamification” of Europe. Big names in xenophobia: The meeting will be attended by some of the most inflammatory names in European race politics, including Jean- Marie Le Pen of France, Austria’s Heinz-Christian Strache, and Belgium’s Filip Dewinter. In the past, the Pro Koeln and Pro NRW have invoked comments by Giordano, who has said he considers German integration policy a failure. He has also warned of “false tolerance” in the prosecution of foreign juvenile delinquents. But Giordano now says he does not want to be “instrumentalized” by the extreme right at the conference.