The anti-Islamization movement PEGIDA (Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West) announced in an anti-Islamization rally on Monday night that it is to form a political party and join the regional election race in 2016.
The PEGIDA rally on Monday night was held with the participation of nearly 800 protesters from PEGIDA in Leipzig in eastern Germany. Although German authorities took necessary precautions in order to prevent the two groups from conflicting, PEGIDA supporters faced counter-protesters during their march which caused a fight among the two parties.
PEGIDA leader Lutz Bachmann said during the rally that PEGIDA planned to participate the Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saxony-Anhalt, and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania regional elections in 2016.
Bachmann added that PEGIDA planned to form a political party at the end of 2015 to participate in the upcoming 2017 general elections.
Bachman, in an interview with Deutsche Welle, said that "[the party] won't be under the name PEGIDA or anything. Nothing is definite yet, it is being discussed by the PEGIDA teams in the whole of Germany and Europe - how we do it is still open."
Bachmann also mentioned that PEGIDA members will decide the party’s strategy as soon as possible.
PEGIDA’s political power strengthened in the mayoral elections in June, when PEGIDA candidate Tatjana Festerling won the mayoral post.
PEGIDA’s popularity has latley been declining with their derogatory comments on migrants and some photographs which showed Bachmann with a Hitler moustache.
Although the popularity of PEGIDA decreased, refugees have suffered from ill-treatment in Germany. The German interior ministry released a report at the beginning of July mentioning that the number of refugee hostel attacks tripled. A refugee home was attacked and set on fire last week in northern Germany. Residents of Leipzig’s town Freital gathered and protested against refugees in the town.
Mentioning the protests in Freital, Bachmann said that “in principle we support any protests that are directed against economic migrants. We're behind those. But we do not support protests directly against homes where there are definite war refugees. In our 10-point programme it says very clearly that we are for the exception of war refugees and people facing political or religious persecution. But we are for decentralised housing. We are against any home - homes are always pressure cookers for trouble."
PEGIDA is a German far right anti-Islam political group founded in Dresden in October 2014. It organises weekly recurring protests against what it cogitates as the Islamisation of the West and its ideology calls for strictly restrictive immigration, especially for Muslims. PEGIDA pursues to alter German legislation.
The anti-Islam group is seen as a racist and borderline fascist group by many in Europe and has drawn criticism from significant political figures, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel.