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Tens of thousands protest in Germany against far right

By AFP

February 3, 2024 11:38 PM


Tens of thousands of people attended rallies across Germany against the far-right AfD party on Saturday, the latest in a wave of such protests over the past two weeks.

Nearly 150,000 people turned out in Berlin according to police, some forming a human chain in front of parliament. Organisers put the figure 300,000.

Similar protests took place in around 200 other cities across the country.

The wave of mobilisation against Alternative for Germany (AfD) was sparked by a January 10 report by investigative outlet Correctiv. It revealed that AfD members had discussed the expulsion of immigrants and "non-assimilated citizens" at a meeting with extremists.

The report sent shock waves across Germany at a time when the AfD is soaring in opinion polls, months ahead of three major regional elections in eastern Germany where their support is strongest.

"All together against racism," the crowd in Berlin shouted. Some held posters that said "Heart instead of hate" or "Racism is not an alternative".

"I don't know if these demonstrations will influence AfD voters," Margret Hurth, a 53-year-old childcare worker, told AFP.

"But it's important to send a signal, because... we need more humanity and respect for our differences."

"I came to set an example," said Martin Raue, a university professor who had come from Sweden to attend the rally. "I was born in Germany."

The Berlin rally was organised by the "Hand in Hand" collective, which is made up of 1,800 organisations.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz hailed the demonstrations in a post on early Saturday on X, formerly Twitter.

"Numerous citizens are gathering to demonstrate again this weekend against forgetting, against hate and inciting hate. A strong sign for our democracy and our constitution," he wrote.

Markus Soeder, the powerful leader of the conservative CSU party in the opposition denounced the AfD as "a deeply far-right party" in comments to the Rheinische Post newspaper.

"I'm literally shocked each time I hear their hateful speeches," he added.

The AfD denounced "a campaign against the only true opposition party in Germany", in a post on X.

"Where are we in Germany when a government calls for a demonstration against part of its population?" it asked.


AFP


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