Among counter-protestors in Cologne where Pegida was likened to Hitler
Among counter-protestors in Cologne where Pegida was likened to Hitler
Patrick Randall

The Pegida movement's weekly Monday night protests against the "Islamization of Europe" were supposed to rally Germans to their cause. But it now appears to be having the opposite effect, as counter-demonstrations have sprung up around the country.

"Pegida flops outside of Dresden," Tuesday's German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung’s declared, citing the eastern city where the movement was born in October. There were still a notable 18,000 people Monday night in Dresden to denounce immigrants and Muslims, with some 3,000 people marching against what Die Welt calls the "citizens of rage."

But the Pegida movement is facing a boomerang beyond Dresden. Across the whole country, counter-protests promoting a message of tolerance were far stronger than the original demonstrators. More than 22,000 anti-Pegida demonstrators rallied in the cities of Stuttgart, Münster, Hamburg, Cologne and Berlin.

To protest what is widely perceived as a racist and extremist movement, the Cologne Cathedral and Berlin's famous Brandenburg Gate and television tower on Alexanderplatz switched off their lights.

Siegessäule, Brandenburg Tor, Kölner Dom, Berliner Fernsehturm: Deutschland schaltet #Pegida das Licht aus! Gut so! pic.twitter.com/NnExDbq7Rv

— Sebastian Jabbusch (@SebJabbusch) January 5, 2015

"The Victory Column, Brandenburg Gate, the Cologne cathedral, the Berlin television tower: Germany is switching off its lights against Pegida! Good!"

This follows a series of statements by German politicians over the past few weeks urging citizens to take to the streets to rally against the far-right movement. On Tuesday, the tabloid Bild published a three-page criticism of Pegida, penned by 50 well-known Germans, including former Chancellors Helmut Schmidt and Gerhard Schröder.

Bild's front page Tuesday, "No to Pegida!"

"The Pegida protests appeal to muffled prejudices, to the hatred of foreigners and intolerance," Schmidt wrote. "Germany must remain open and tolerant. Therefore a clear No to Pegida."

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble also wrote that "slogans can't change facts: Germany needs immigrants, and we need to have (open) hearts for refugees in need." The general manager of the German national soccer team stressed that many national players who won the World Cup last summer had foreign roots.

A Pegida protester holds a banner calling for ""potatoes instead of doner kebab"" in Cologne Monday — Photo: Bettina Strenske/London News Pictures/ZUMA

Around 200 right-wing demonstrators marched in Cologne against what they consider the "Islamization" of Europe — Photo: Bettina Strenske/London News Pictures/ZUMA

Meanwhile, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung underlines the absurdity of the concept of German identity the Pegida demonstrators claim, pointing out that the typical German Tyrolean bacon could soon be imported from the United States.

A counter-Pegida demonstrator with a poster calling for "human rights instead of right-wing humans" — Photo: Bettina Strenske/London News Pictures/ZUMA

Online, the fight against Pegida is also growing. Hundreds of thousands of people have signed an online petition against the movement and a "No Pegida" hashtag has spread across Twitter, from various countries and languages.

Don't repeat your history, say no to pegida, Germans! @#nopegida

— Shaviera Indriyati (@shavisapi) January 6, 2015

FM #Steinmeier cont'd: In GER,we know how much we can benefit from the exchange with foreign cultures. Thus,we are not afraid. #NoPegida 2/2

— GermanForeignOffice (@GermanyDiplo) January 6, 2015

Germany, you rock! I don't feel this often but right now I am f***ing proud of my country! #StopRacism #NoPegida http://t.co/z4lKHW5qVM

— Marcus Fischer (@marcusfischer) January 5, 2015

I’m very proud of all the brave citizens that are on Germany’s streets protesting against racism. #nopegida #nobärgida <3

— Jan Lehnardt (@janl) January 5, 2015

Lassen wir Zahlen für Vielfalt und Toleranz sprechen: Petition gegen #pegida https://t.co/OjACYn9qHg #nopegida

— Christiane Kliemann (@Schnecken_Post) January 6, 2015

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Society

How The Top Collector Of Chinese Art Evades Censors In New Hong Kong Museum

Swiss businessman Uli Sigg is the most important collector of Chinese contemporary art. In 2012, he gave away most of his collection to the M+ in Hong Kong. Now the museum has opened as the Communist Party is cracking down hard on freedom of expression. So how do you run a museum in the face of widespread censorship from Beijing?

''Rouge 1992'' by Li Shan at the M+ museum

Maximilian Kalkhof

The first test has been passed, Uli Sigg thinks. So far, everything has gone well. His new exhibition has opened, visitors like to come, and — this is the most important thing for the Swiss businessman — everything is on display. He has not had to take an exhibit off the list of works.

The M+ in Hong Kong is a new museum that wants to compete with the established ones. It wants to surpass the MoMa in New York and Centre Pompidou in Paris. Sigg, a rather down-to-earth man, says: “There is no better museum in the whole world.” That is very much self-praise, since Sigg’s own collection is central to the museum.

The only problem is: great art is often political; it questions the rulers. Since the Chinese Communist Party has been cracking down on critics and freedom in Hong Kong, the metropolis is a bad place for politics and art. So how did the collection get there?

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