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Tens of thousands of Germans protest against far-right

Tens of thousands of Germans have taken to the streets to protest against the far-right.

The demonstrations are in response to a report claiming that several members of the far-right Alternative for Germany Party (AfD) had taken part in a meeting where plans to deport migrants en masse were discussed.

In Berlin, crowds braved freezing temperatures to show their condemnation.

Signs read “Racism is not an alternative” and “Nazis out”.

Organisers said 350,000 had gathered, while local media reported police put the number at 100,000.

“We need to do much more about what’s going on in Germany, we don’t want any Nazis coming back and we want to have a colourful society,” said Lydia who held her rainbow sign aloft.

Lidia
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Lydia says ‘we don’t want any Nazis coming back’

Dalila
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‘It makes me scared,’ says Dalila

Many are afraid Germany is going in a direction they aren’t comfortable with.

More on Germany

“Racist people are growing and we would like to send a sign that we don’t like it,” explained Uvi.

Dalila added: “It makes me scared. You can feel it everywhere; there’s a movement going more and more to the right side. That’s why I like to come here.”

In Munich, protests had to be called off due to overcrowding after around 100,000 people showed up.

Huge crowds also gathered in cities including Frankfurt, Cologne and Hamburg over the weekend.

Many demonstrators are calling for the AfD party to be banned.

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Some have compared the so-called “remigration” proposal with the Nazis’ initial plan to deport European Jews to Madagascar.

“What we see here is not oblivious to history, but deliberately pursuing Nazi ideologies; what we see are right-wing extremist networks and right-wing extremist ideologies,” German interior minister, Nancy Faeser, recently told reporters.

This is a clear attempt to define ethnically who belongs in Germany and who does not and we will not allow that.”

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz attending a protest in Potsdam
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German Chancellor Olaf Scholz attends a protest in Potsdam

In a video message ahead of the weekend’s demonstrations, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz welcomed the protests as “good and right”.

He warned: “Right-wing extremists are attacking our democracy. They want to destroy our cohesion.”

Investigation uncovers alleged ‘master plan’

The investigation by journalism network Correctiv alleged a “master plan” for the mass deportation of German asylum-seekers and German citizens of foreign origin was discussed at a meeting in Potsdam in November attended by members of the AfD, neo-Nazis and other far-right extremists.

Two members of the Christian Democrats (CDU), the party of former chancellor Angela Merkel, were also said to be present, although it’s reported neither holds an office in the party.

At the meeting, the Austrian leader of the far-right Identitarian Movement, Martin Sellner, reportedly proposed a project of “remigration” which would see “unassimilated” immigrants forced to leave Germany even if they had citizenship.

The idea for deportees to be sent to a “model state” in North Africa was also floated, Correctiv reported, citing hidden camera footage, accounts by attendees and reporters staking out the hotel where the meeting was held.

Protest against far- right extremism
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Huge crowds have gathered in cities including Frankfurt

AfD denies plans are party policy

The AfD, which is polling second in nationwide surveys, has denied the plans are party policy.

Co-leader Alice Weidel parted ways with one of her advisers who participated in the talks.

Simon Green, professor of politics at Aston University, said: “To ban a party which is actually doing quite well which has significant public support brings with it real political risks as well because what happens to those supporters.

“Defeating populist and extreme right-wing parties through legal means is a process which is flawed with risk. Typically, it is better to defeat these parties politically than legally.”

Despite the AfD’s denial, numerous cities have seen demonstrations throughout the week.

The AfD is under investigation by security authorities in several German states and risks being declared an extremist organisation by national authorities, which could lead to it being banned.

The party denies it is extremist or racist.

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