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article imageFears rise in Germany as marchers demand tougher immigration law

By Karen Graham     Dec 14, 2014 in World
A rising tide of xenophobia has taken hold in Germany as protesters have taken to the streets by the thousands, demanding a tougher immigration law. The rise in anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic hate crimes has Germany's chancellor in a quandary.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is facing a monumental predicament over Germany's immigration laws. The challenges of facing the rising tide of anti-Islamic sentiment from both rivals and allies is raising fears among many immigrants of a weakening of what had been a taboo in Germany since the end of WWII: The expression of xenophobic sentiments.
Merkle's party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU) have come under criticism recently for allegedly adopting an anti-immigrant rhetoric and not distancing themselves from the demonstrations against immigration laws and the growing anti-Islam movement.
OANN reported that Greens leader Cem Oezdemir urged Merkle “to recognize clearly that Germany is a country for immigrants and benefits from them." This comment seems sort of strange when Merkle have often said Germany needs more immigrants to boost its workforce.
But the CSU has been critical of some of the immigration policies, which by the way, are extremely lenient. They have accused immigrants coming from the Balkans, Romania and Bulgaria of exploiting the welfare benefits available in Germany. Then, to add insult to injury, the CSU proposed last week that immigrants must speak German in public and in their homes so as to encourage “successful integration.”
The problem hurting Merkle's government right now is the warnings from her security officials about an increase in "hate" crimes. Public opinion polls are also going against the chancellor as more and more people support the anti-immigration movement. Police chief Holger Muench told the German press, “There is a visible rise in xenophobic crime countrywide." Reuters reported on Friday that Merkle was adamant in saying there was “no place in Germany for hatred of Muslims or any other minority."
PEDIGA launches biggest march to date in Dresden
The “Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the Occident,” or PEGIDA, organized the biggest march to date in the eastern city of Dresden Monday. Over 10,000 people marched in the streets, waving German flags and shouting angrily against the "criminal asylum seekers” and the “Islamization” of Germany.
Hajo Funke of Berlin’s Free University says the far-right populist movement has gained support from neo-Nazis and the anti-euro party, or the AfD. The AfD is still small in numbers, but it is growing says Funke. He also points out the sentiment behind the name PEDIGA, calling it “a veritable call to arms by far-right populists,” reminiscent of the Christian crusades and Nazi propaganda, a combination of rhetoric that can end up being highly volatile.
In a poll conducted last week by Germany's public-service television network, ZDF, a large majority of the German public had questionable or negative attitudes toward immigrants. Over half of those polled said they felt immigrants weren't doing enough to integrate into the German culture. An additional 45 percent said immigrants have brought both disadvantages and advantages.
According to the Federal Statistics Office, 9.7 million of Germany's immigrants have become German citizens, while 6.8 million immigrants have kept their former nationalities. According to the latest census figures for Germany, immigrants account for 8.7 percent of the population.
More about Germany, Angela merkel, Islamization, Xenophobia, antiimmigrant sentiment
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