Germany to fight intolerance and discrimination

A day after calling Islam part of Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel said her government would use all means at its disposal to fight intolerance and discrimination, calling the exclusion of certain groups from society “humanly reprehensible”, reports

Her comments came a day after 25,000 anti-Islam demonstrators marched in the eastern German city of Dresden to demand stricter immigration rules and an end to multiculturalism.

“What we need to do now is to use all the means at our disposal as a constitutional state to combat intolerance and violence,” Merkel said at a conference in Berlin.

Nearly 100,000 people are estimated to have participated in counter-demonstrations against racism in other marches across Germany on Monday. And the Dresden-based movement, called PEGIDA or Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West, has drawn far fewer supporters in other cities.

But it represents a major political challenge for Merkel. Her conservative party includes immigration sceptics and members of a surging new right-wing party called the Alternative forGermany (AfD) have allied with PEGIDA.

A recent poll by the Bertelsmann Foundation showed 57 percent of non-Muslim Germans feel threatened by Islam, and it was conducted before deadly attacks by Islamic militants in Pariskilled 17 people last week.

Speaking before taking part later on Tuesday in a Berlin vigil organised by Muslim groups for the victims of the Paris attacks, Merkel delivered one of her strongest repudiations of the PEGIDA movement and its sympathisers.

“To exclude groups of people because of their faith, this isn’t worthy of the free state in which we live. It isn’t compatible with our essential values. And its humanly reprehensible,” Merkel said. “Xenophobia, racism, extremism have no place here. We are fighting to ensure that they don’t have a place elsewhere either.”