However, one in eight Germans don’t share her opinion, according to a recent poll.
The chancellor accused the leaders of the recently formed anti-Islam protest group, the so-called Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West (PEGIDA), of hijacking historic political slogans that helped to bring down the Berlin Wall to propagate prejudice.
“Today many people are again shouting on Mondays: 'We are the people.' But what they really mean is: You are not one of us, because of your skin color or your religion,” Merkel said during the televised address.
"I say to all those who go to such demonstrations: Do not follow those who have called the rallies because all too often they have prejudice, coldness, even hatred in their hearts," she added.
Although initially disregarded as another neo-Nazi campaign, the PEGIDA gained momentum on an unprecedented scale in the past two months. A protests held in the last week of December 2014 drew a record 17,000 people in Dresden.
The movement’s Facebook page has almost 100,000 subscribers. The supporters demand strict immigration controls, obligatory “integration” for foreigners and “criminal asylum seekers” to be sent back.
And all of this has been achieved by Lutz Bachmann, PEGIDA’s founder, who is reportedly an ex-convict who once sold sausages at Dresden’s famous Christmas market.
Merkel previously cautioned Germans against falling prey to any form of xenophobic “rabble-rousing;” however, it doesn’t seem her people paid any heed to her words.
A survey of 1,006 people by Forsa Institute for Stern magazine found 13 percent would attend an anti-Muslim march. Twenty-nine percent believed the marches were justified because of the general effect Islam has on life in Germany.
However, a lot of respondents were concerned about the numbers of asylum seekers coming in the country – a fact that could be used as a ploy by Merkel’s political rivals.
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