Citizens defeat racists in Cologne

with 9 comments

United against racism, terror and violence

United against racism, terror and violence

You won’t find me at a lot of political rallies.

So when I got my ass up this weekend to go out and demonstrate, you know that it must have been a cause that was very important to me.

This weekend, racists and neo-Nazis from all over Europe had planned to gather in my home town Cologne for an “Anti-Islam-Conference”.

They were hoping to use public sentiment against the construction of a big mosque in Cologne to their advantage.

They’d planned a big rally in one of Cologne’s downtown squares, the Heumarkt, with speakers from right-wing parties like France’s Front National, Italy’ Lega Nord and Austria’s FPÖ.

Cologne debates construction of a big mosque

Many people in Cologne aren’t comfortable with the idea of building the new mosque. Cologne is a very catholic and a very traditional city.

But the fact is that the city also has a large Muslim population. And so far, they’ve been meeting in small neighborhood prayer rooms.

The new mosque will give them a central meeting place in town. And it’ll be an architectural statement that Muslims have become an integral part of this city.

Demonstration against racism in Cologne

Demonstration against racism in Cologne

And while the debate about the construction of the mosque is a regular part of the democratic process in Cologne, racism and xenophobia are not.

That’s what brought the people of Cologne out in droves this weekend to protest against the “Anti-Islam-Conference”.

In the end, their massive protest foiled the efforts of the right-wing extremists.

A broad coalition against racism

Opposition against the “Anti-Islam-Conference” in Germany’s media and among the public had gathered force throughout the last week.

Anti-Nazi demonstrations get front page coverage in Cologne's leading local paper

Anti-Nazi demonstrations get front page coverage

Germany’s radio and television stations, newspapers and many websites reported in-depth on the upcoming meeting of the racists in Cologne.

They also described the growing dissatisfaction among the city’s citizens about the event.

And they reported about planned anti-nazi demonstrations and creative ways to obstruct the racist rally. A broad democratic coalition formed.

Cologne turns anti-racist protest into a carnival

One the funniest anti-racist initiatives was “11 000 Bellydancers”. The organizers called on people to come dressed up in oriental garb and dance to oriental music. The aim was to contrast xenophobia and racism with multi-cultural fun, song and dance.

And while there probably weren’t 11 000 bellydancers on Saturday, you did see quite a few people wearing oriental outfits. It was a little like a summer carnival.

Other forms of protest included some of Germany’s most popular bands joining forces for a concert against racism. It took place exactly at the time and within hearing distance of the right-wing rally.

Meanwhile, protesters blocked the streets leading to Heumarkt square, so that the right-wing supporters who wanted to attend the “Anti-Islam-Conference” couldn’t get to the rally.

Whenever someone tried to get through the blockade and onto Heumarkt, the protesters started chanting “Nazis raus!” (Nazis get out).

Racist rally doesn’t take place as planned

In the end, there were only about 90 right-wing supporters on Heumarkt.

The low turnout was a blow in the face to the organizers, who had hoped to attract thousands of supporters.

And it was a victory for civil rights.

I’m proud of the thousands of people of this city who gathered in peaceful protest against racism.

I’m proud of the demonstrators who blocked the tram line that leads from Cologne airport into the city. This prevented hundreds of racists who had arrived by plane from getting into town.

I’m proud of the airport officials, who threw the racists out of the building when they tried to hold an improvised press conference there.

I’m proud of the teenagers who blocked the streets leading to Heumarkt.

I’m proud of the Cologne hotel manager who asked the racists to pack their bags and get out as soon as he found out who had checked in to his hotel.

An important step forward, but still a long way to go

I know that – even though the racists had to retreat this time, they still have a lot of popular support. In Cologne, in Germany, in Europe.

This time, the supporters were silenced by the massive protests.

But they are still among us. Silent now, but waiting.

The organizers of the “Anti-Islam-Conference” have already announced that they want to schedule another rally in the near future.

The public debate about multi-cultural society is far from over. Integration and tolerance remain difficult in Germany.


9 Responses

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  1. !!! Tolle Sache, SO geht es – und dann auch noch typisch kölsch. Schade nur, dass sich die äußerste Linke gewaltbereit einmischt.


    September 21, 2008 at 9:02 pm

  2. The discussion about this post has partly shifted to this site (although I’d much rather have it here within the blog.)


    September 28, 2008 at 10:55 am

  3. […] Podeis ver imágenes del asunto y un texto en inglés en la bitacora de Thorsten. […]

  4. Vielleicht die Patrioten über Köln kennen mehr denn die link- ist willig zu akzeptieren , so die link- Wille dämonisch die richtig beim Absage Sie , die Welt weit mißbrauchte Trimester , Rassist! Die link- auch Verwendungen die Trimester Fremdenfeindlichkeit zu ungeniert auch. Die Schwächung des Europäer enthaltsam ist kommend hindurch Messe Einwanderung.

    I hope this is understandable, English is my first language so here it is in English.

    Perhaps the Patriots of Cologne know more than the left is willing to accept, so the left will demonize the right by calling them, the world wide misused term, RACIST! The left also uses the term xenophobe to freely also. The weakening of the European continent is coming through mass immigration.


    May 10, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    • I do not agree with what you say. Immigration is not weakening but enriching the European continent. For many immigrants, coming to Europe is the only chance they have to lead a life without oppression and poverty. And I’m sure that most of them would rather stay in their home countries if they had a choice.


      May 11, 2009 at 7:34 am

  5. Here is how immigration weakens a European and American society and I will explain this as an American and what it does to OUR society. In education teachers are required to met the needs of the illegals (for the most part) who do not understand English, the time and resources spent on just one foreign student takes away from the entire class, while the educator attempts to bring the the foreign student up to par the remaining students lag behind!

    Here in the US business enables the Mexican illegal (40 million) by posting signs in Spanish not forcing the necessity to learn English just to earn their money!

    Healthcare: socialized medicine unfortunately is one the way to the USA because the Communists in this country see a need to destroy a good thing. Our hospitals NEVER turn down care to someone who has no insurance but Americans will be forced to scale down to accommodate those who illegally come here from around the world. Keep in mind 17 illegal Egyptians took down the World Trade Center and hit the Pentagon!

    I see the enrichment that you speak of, more poverty, disease, crime, lower standards in every phase of society. Just recently the swine flu, salmonella poisoning, TB and staphylococcus infection to name a few. If people like the USA and want to move here they must assimilate!

    If you take a gallon (litre or liter) of pure filtered water and added one drop of risin, the gallon of water is tainted and practically unfit for consumption.

    There was a reason my ancestors left Europe (Ireland, England) and why I celebrate the Fourth of July!


    May 11, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    • @Sneadster:
      Are you against immigration, or illegal immigration?

      But it seems it’s illegal immigration you’re against, not immigration itself. After all, your ancestors were also immigrants 🙂


      August 9, 2009 at 7:56 am

  6. I see that our lines of argumentation are miles apart. I will not convince you and you certainly will not convince me. Therefore it does not make much sense to reply to your arguments here and point out where we merely disagree, where you got facts wrong, and where your argumentation is downright inhumane.
    I will say, though, that blaming diseases on certain groups of people and comparing human beings to resin is more than I can tolerate. That is a line of argumentation that the Nazis used against the Jews and other minorities. And we all know where that way of thinking led the world.


    May 11, 2009 at 3:40 pm

  7. “I will not convince you and you certainly will not convince me. Therefore it does not make much sense to reply to your arguments here and point out where we merely disagree, where you got facts wrong, and where your argumentation is downright inhumane.”

    D’accord. Nothing more to say after reading a factual article from a cologne journalist.

    Thank you for letting us know.

    Taufique Ahmed

    August 20, 2009 at 9:14 am

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