Germany's far-right AfD party rally outnumbered more than four-to-one by protesters

Up to 22,000 people take part in counter-demonstrations

Thomas Escritt
Sunday 27 May 2018 19:08
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AfD sympathizers wave German flags and a WW2 German War Flag during the Right Party AfD demonstration march titled "Future Germany"  on 27 May
AfD sympathizers wave German flags and a WW2 German War Flag during the Right Party AfD demonstration march titled "Future Germany" on 27 May

Roughly 5,000 people marched through the streets of Berlin in support of far-right party Alternative for Germany (AfD) today, but did not do so unopposed.

Up to 22,000 people took part in counter-demonstrations throughout the German capital on Sunday.

The AfD's anti-immigration, anti-European Union and anti-Muslim messages helped it become the third largest party in the German Bundestag in last September's vote but it has had little impact on parliamentary debate since then.

The far-right party's demonstrators, bussed in from around Germany, marched from Berlin's main station, down the banks of the Spree river to the Brandenburg Gate near the German parliament.

German and AfD flags were waved alongside placards demanding "Democracy not Merkelatorship".

Senior AfD lawmaker Beatrix von Storch, who addressed the supporters as they set off from the central station, said: "The rule of Islam in Germany is the rule of evil."

Berliners responded with at least 13 registered counter-demonstrations. These included one by the city's club scene, which put on a techno music party, aiming to "Bass the AfD away" with music blasting from speakers on 20 public address trucks.

"We want to be loud enough to drown out the racist speeches," an activist named Rosa told RBB public television.

Another group of anti-AfD protesters were on a boat on the Spree river holding up placards saying "You stink!"

The AfD is now the largest opposition party following the deal between Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives and the Social Democrats to renew their grand coalition.

As a result, the AfD, founded as an anti-European Union party by a group of academics in 2013, has a host of powerful committee chairmanships, but has so far failed to capitalise on them.

The protests were broadly peaceful, with only one minor injury reported amid a heavy police presence.

Reuters

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