Saarland ist BUNT!

When I arrived in Germany late this summer I started hearing about a movement in Germany called PEGIDA, an acronym for “Patriots of Europe Against the Islamization of the West.” Their protests in Dresden are what first gave them recognition in the media. Their movement is aggressive and intolerant. They demand that all refugees return to their home countries, despite the fact that Germany has a history of being a safe haven for those seeking refuge. Pegida lumps all Muslim refugees together and calls them criminals and terrorists. They confuse terrorism with Islam. Many people have already compared the anti-Islam sentiments of the movement with the antisemitic ideals of the Nazi party. In fact, some of their lingo comes directly from former Nazi statements. I was shocked to see such a group here in Germany. So, when PEGIDA supporters in Saarland announced they would be demonstrating in Saarbrücken, I decided that I would march in the counter demonstration. On Monday, I walked with a new friend I met from France over to the meeting place. As we came closer, I could see crowds of people coming from all directions. When we reached the “Treffpunkt” (meeting place) I was overwhelmed at how many people were there. People from all different political parties, social groups, ages and walks of life were there waiting to march for tolerance and peace. We marched to Sankt Johanner Markt together and were greeted with Samba music and speeches about acceptance and understanding. The mayor of Saarbrücken stated that there was no place for racism in Saarland. Later we came to find out that the PEGIDA demonstration had a turnout of approximately 300 people. Our march against their movement had a whopping 9000 supporters. I am proud to call this city home for now and happy to say Saarland ist Bunt! (Saarland is colourful)