Pegida offshoot set to demo next week
Former Pegida spokeswoman Kathrin Oertel has moved on from the anti-Islamization group and started a new conservative movement, it was reported on Monday.
Oertel became one of the best known faces of Pegida, a movement that stands for the Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West, after appearing on the movement's behalf on talk show Günther Jauch.
The new group, called Direct Democracy for Europe, will hold its first demonstration in Dresden on Sunday, February 8.
Direct Democracy for Europe is supposed to be for citizens and conservative, "just right of the Christian Democratic Union", to which Angela Merkel belongs, reported Zeit. The new group will not focus so closely on asylum-seekers, but rather call for more conservative politics in Germany.
Oertel along with former Pegida organiser Bernd-Volker Lincke are among those who have founded the new group after they left Pegida's central core last week.
In all, five people left the fold following revelations that Pegida founder Lutz Bachmann once referred to refugees in Germany as "trash" and "cattle" in comments on Facebook.
He also once posted a picture of himself styled as Hitler to the page of the voice actor who recorded the audio version of, "He's back", a satirical novel about Hitler taking a stroll through Berlin's Mitte district 66 years after his death.
The ex-Pegida members left over a disagreement as to how much involvement Bachmann should have with the group in the future.
Last Thursday, René Jahn spoke at a press conference spoke of the intention to found the new movement.
"We are trying - us five – because we've had an overwhelming amount of support from citizens, many have called us after we made our decision, and many have asked us to continue our work, and we are working as fast as possible to create a new manifesto," Jahn said.
The new group is also expected to move away from the anti-Islam stance that has marked Pegida since its inception.
Pegida traditionally demonstrated on Mondays, with this week's demonstration being cancelled in the wake of the changes in leadership. On its Facebook page, remaining organizers have promised that the movement will pick up again on Monday, February 9th.
The anti-Islamization movement seemed already to have peaked on January 12, when 25,000 people gathered and walked the route through Dresden following a week of terrorism in France that left 17 dead, including the senior editorial staff of French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, at the hands of three gunmen claiming ties to Al-Qaeda.
On the same day, more than 100,000 people took part in counter-demonstrations for tolerance and openness across Germany.
Since that night, the Leipzig offshoot of the demonstration, Legida, has seen a pick-up in popularity, although in contrast to the Dresden movement there have also been violent outbursts at demonstrations in the city.,