Postcard from... Leipzig


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The Independent Online

Leipzig prides itself on having been the cradle of the popular “people’s revolution” that toppled former East Germany’s totalitarian regime. In late 1989, tens of thousands took to the city’s streets to demand freedom of speech, free elections and the right to travel abroad. “Wir sind das Volk” (“We are the people”) was the slogan they adopted. 

East Germany’s former dissidents are furious the same slogan has now been hijacked by the rival east German city of Dresden’s xenophobic Pegida movement which has been protesting against so-called “Islamisation”. Leipzig has chosen to respond with mass anti-Pegida protests. Some 30,000 people demonstrated against the anti-Islamic movement earlier this month.

Many claim that compared with its bigoted-looking neighbour Dresden, Leipzig remains in the vanguard of the struggle against intolerance. But that could soon change. The threat of a terrorist attack against Pegida in Dresden has prompted police to ban the movement from holding its weekly rallies in the city. Pegida has now called instead for mass anti-Islamic protests in Leipzig. Many of the movement’s supporters are expected to travel to Leipzig for the event on Wednesday. The slogan “Wir sind das Volk” will no doubt ring out again.