Monday 28 May 2018

Tremendous anti fascist demonstration of 70 000 against far right AfD In Berlin

 

On Sunday the far right AfD party in Germany, tried to move beyond its parliamentary operation by mobilising on the streets of Berlin. They claimed that they would get over ten thousand supporters marching they said, for the ‘Future of Germany’.

Instead their march was not much bigger than two thousand, mostly middle aged, middle class men. Not a few present represent the extreme right backbone of the organisation. Supporters of the  islamophobic Pegida group, (allies of the currently imprisoned Tommy Robinson) were believed to have been with the AfD.
The AfD were completely swamped by an incredible turnout from Berliners of all ages and from across the political spectrum.

For the first time the antiracist organisation, Aufstehen gegen Rassismus , Stand Up Against Racism, was a real visual presence on the main demonstration, the 25,000 strong Stop The Hate mobilisation, AgR placards and stickers were everywhere. There were also sizable contingents from the Left Party and from the mainstream SPD, a Labour type party. The Green Party had also mobilised members.

The Bass against Hate demonstration organised by an association of Berlin nightclubs from the Techno scene had a huge and vibrant turnout. As many as 40,000 mainly young people, including an LGBT+ bloc were there! The Bass against Hate paraded huge sound systems in an attempt to drown out the AfD demonstration. Berlin’s Theatres, arts workers and performers also mobilised in their own demo that included a Glitter Bloc. As in the above picture, anti fascists were also on boats, drowning out the AfD.

In total 14 seperate mobilisations came together in the Tiergarten, the park just beyond the Brandenburg Gate where the Afd were rallying. The AfD were completely surrounded. This huge presence made the AfD rally totally inaudible to its participants beyond the front few rows.

The Stop The Hate rally was addressed by Left party MP’s and by speakers from the teachers union the GEW and from the leader of the main trade union federation in Berlin the DGB. It also heard a moving speech from a Holocaust survivor.


Demonstrators were prevented from blocking the route of the AfD march by a huge police presence. The police also arrested 73 year old Jewish woman Irmela Mensah-Schramm who had taken up a place in the Washingtonplatz where the AfD where to meet. Irmela is a famous anti fascist activist who removes or covers up any right wing graffiti or stickers that she sees.

The attempt to demonstrate was seen by the AfD as a trial to start to build a street movement. The Afd started as a right wing populist party against the EU but has become a vehicle for serious fascists to create a base, eclipsing the older Nazi party the NPD.

AfD MPs published a letter to the German government last month linking children with disabilities to immigration. It said that disabilities had risen by 0.9 percent over the last two years and were caused, partly, ‘by marriage inside the family’.

 

Many criticised the AfD for such bile. AfD politician Nicole Hochst responded with racist filth. ‘Marriage inside the family, especially between first cousins, is most widespread among migrants from Arab and African regions’, she said.

 

 

The anti AfD demonstration has been a serious setback for them and supporters on the #afd twitter hashtag are showing deep discontent. This was a national mobilisation for them, funded in some areas by state funds where the AfD have influence. They however failed to go beyond their hardcore base.

Die Linke (The Left) MP Christine Buchholz said, ‘Today’s protest against the onslaught of the AfD was a resounding success’.

 

Anti fascists in Berlin have inspired like minded individuals and organisations both at home and abroad. The AfD have a serious presence in the Bundestag and all the federal funding that goes with that. The rise of the far right across the whole of Europe is a serious worry and requires great effort in opposing it. Berlin provides many examples of how to make an exhilarating, anti fascist, united front.The creation of Aufstehen gegen Rassismus as a uniting force in the anti AfD movement is a big step forward. There will be major challenges in the future, and yesterday could yet be seen as the start of a turning point in undercutting the AfD.

 


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