Der Spiegel panics: ‘Right-wing extremism: Germany’s new Islamophobia boom’

Stachus is one of Munich’s nicest squares. It is rich in tradition and filled with pedestrians — and perfect for Michael Stürzenberger’s purposes.

Hand balled into a fist, he paces back and forth and screams, “The Koran is the most dangerous book in the world.” Because a couple dozen people have come to demonstrate against Stürzenberger, police officers in bullet-proof vests are watching over the area.

A decade ago, Stürzenberger, 49, was the spokesperson for the Munich office of the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union.

But since 2012 he has been active in a splinter party called Die Freiheit (The Freedom), of which he was elected federal chairman three months ago. He preaches hate against Islam and compares the Koran to Hitler’s Mein Kampf.

In this 2011 photo, former Die Freiheit (The Freedom) Party Chairman Rene Stadtkewitz stands alongside Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders and Oskar Freysinger of the Swiss People’s Party at a rally for Die Freiheit. The party is part of the German anti-Islam movement.

For two years now, he’s been collecting signatures opposing the planned construction of an Islamic center in Munich. He has already held over one hundred anti-Islam rallies.

The Freiheit leader isn’t alone. Several supporters, have joined him on Stachus, some carrying signs such as “No mosque on Stachus,” or “Stop the enemies of democracy.” Stürzenberger screams that Sharia instructs men to hit women. His voice cracks. “We don’t want that in Bavaria!” A retiree asks where he can sign “against Islam.”

For most Munich residents, Stürzenberger’s verbal assaults are an embarrassment. CSU city councilwoman Marian Hoffman compares his incitements to the “droning speeches of the Nazis.”

The city government of Mayor Christian Ude, a member of the center-left Social Democrats, is worried about possible conflict during the upcoming local elections. Munich, he says, has become the focus of “experimentation” by radical anti-Islamists with the right-wing populists from Die Freiheit testing whether or not their attacks on the Muslim minority have majority appeal.

If Stürzenberger gathers enough signatures for a citizens’ initiative against the mosque, it would send a signal across Bavaria and beyond that Muslims are not welcome…  [Article is in English.]

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And so on, a long hysterical rant. How do they know what “most Munich residents” think? Later in the article they say:

According to a study by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, 56% of Germans consider Islam to be an “archaic religion, incapable of fitting into modern life” and many believe religious freedom for Muslims should be “substantially restricted.”

That would seem to contradict their statement. But Germany is relatively new to serious consideration of Islam-skeptics and this article has a frantic tone. The website Politically Incorrect (a German language site despite its title) comes in for a large share of criticism. And they do not neglect the NPD Party (successor to the now-banned Nazi Party), implying the new anti-Islamists are more or less Nazis.

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