07:00 GMT24 October 2020
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    Major Migrant Crisis in Europe (1819)

    The German approach to the refugee crisis is not only splitting European Union member states apart - but also residents living in towns and cities across the country.

    Chancellor Angela Merkel is welcoming refugees with open arms, accepting that the country will need to resettle up to a million new people by the end of the year; all the while German media are reporting a rise in anti-refugee sentiment.

    So-called "invaders" are being blocked by residents from entering their town if they do not look familiar. Locals are manning improvised checkpoints 24 hours a day to keep refugees and migrants out.

    According to German newspaper, Der Spiegel, more than a thousand people recently marched in silence in a small suburban district of Chemnitz, where slogans like "protect our homeland" were daubed on buildings. A speaker then, thanked the Pegida movement for its support.

    Pegida, which stands for Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the Occident, had posted an online warning addressing local residents in Einsiedel, saying that "invaders" were en route towards a nearby refugee camp. In response and under the nose of Saxony police, local residents blocked the road, stopping the refugees from accessing accommodation.

    It was believed that support for the Pegida movement had dwindled ever since its leader Lutz Backmann temporarily stepped down after being caught posing for a photograph as Hitler. Attendance at weekly rallies also diminished.

    Yet according to Der Speigal, Pegida is back and "is also becoming more radical."

    Recent demonstrators marched through Dresden shouting "deport, deport" against refugees.

    Tensions towards refugees have grown in Germany in parallel with the open arms approach to migrants led by leader Angela Merkel. Attacks on asylum shelters are increasing along with the re-ignited support for Pegida.

    A recent rally in Dresden attracted 40,000 supporters, suggesting the extreme right-wing movement is gaining support due to the ongoing debate on how to solve the refugee crisis in Germany.

    Protestors wave a German flag in front of the Church of Our Lady during a demonstration of PEGIDA (Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West) in Dresden, eastern Germany, Monday, Oct. 5, 2015.
    © AP Photo / Jens Meyer
    Protestors wave a German flag in front of the Church of Our Lady during a demonstration of PEGIDA (Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West) in Dresden, eastern Germany, Monday, Oct. 5, 2015.

    Tommy Robinson, a name more familiar in the UK and associated with the far-right extremist group the English Defense League (EDL), told a crowd which gathered to celebrate Pegida's first anniversary, that Angela Merkel is "handing out the birth right of German citizens like she is handing out candy."

    Deutsche Welle (DW) reporter Jaafar Abdul Karim was recently attacked covering a Pegida rally in Dresden. Karim has since written an open letter to Angela Merkel.

    "This new culture of welcoming people to Germany is great! But now we need to make it official policy. Lots of people are freaked out over all this migration, but integrating people into German society really isn't all that hard.

    "The way I see it, we can overcome the challenge. The trick is prioritizing people's needs, much like Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. It has five levels. Security — Acceptance — Trust — Freedom — Home."

    Amid the rising tensions and resentment, Germany is still set to become "home" to over one million refugees by the end of 2015. The crisis continues to hang in the balance for Angela Merkel, whose popularity, unlike that of Pegida, has slumped in recent weeks. 

    Major Migrant Crisis in Europe (1819)


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    refugee crisis, asylum policy, anti-immigration protests, popularity, tensions, migrants, refugees, xenophobia, English Defence League, Pegida, Deutsche Welle, Der Spiegel, Angela Merkel, Germany, Europe, Dresden
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