PEGIDA’s anti-Muslim calls shake up German politics

File photo of participants holding a banner during a demonstration called by anti-immigration group PEGIDA, a German abbreviation for “Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West”, in Dresden December 22, 2014. Sign reads “We are the people.” REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke/Files

(Reuters) – Weekly marches by the German anti-Islam movement PEGIDA may not spread much beyond the city of Dresden where they began, but their message is having a profound impact on mainstream political parties.

The sight of 25,000 people waving German flags in the dark and chanting “Luegenpresse” (Lying press), a Nazi term, and “Wir sind das Volk” (We are the people), taken up before the Berlin Wall fell, leaves a strong impression.

This week’s record number of marchers were emboldened by the Islamist attack on French magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Co-founder Lutz Bachmann, 41, says his ‘Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West’ campaign, born on Facebook three months ago, represents the silent majority and has huge potential across Germany and Europe.

“This is the tip of the iceberg,” Bachmann, who has a criminal conviction for burglary, told Reuters in an interview…