Far-right group protests construction of German mosque

HENNING KAISER/AFP/Getty Images Recently, I wrote about how some people in Switzerland want to ban the building of minarets. Now a right-wing citizens’ group in the German city of Cologne is protesting the construction of what will be the country’s largest mosque. The group, Pro Cologne, has even enlisted help from far-right activists in Belgium ...

601053_070620_germany_05.jpg
601053_070620_germany_05.jpg

HENNING KAISER/AFP/Getty Images

Recently, I wrote about how some people in Switzerland want to ban the building of minarets. Now a right-wing citizens' group in the German city of Cologne is protesting the construction of what will be the country's largest mosque. The group, Pro Cologne, has even enlisted help from far-right activists in Belgium and Austria.

The protest is driven by a fear of the Islamization of Europe. This anxiety, which Philip Jenkins argues is overblown in a recent web exclusive for FP, is a variant of what one sociologist has described as "cultural displacement" — "the fear that your children will grow up in a world different than the one you grew up in." In the United States, it's captured by those white Americans who, in the face of a rising Hispanic population, worry about a day when Spanish will be the language on the streets and there will be more Miguels than Michaels. In Europe, it's captured by a woman in Cologne who says she wants to feel at home, not as if she's in a foreign land.

HENNING KAISER/AFP/Getty Images

Recently, I wrote about how some people in Switzerland want to ban the building of minarets. Now a right-wing citizens’ group in the German city of Cologne is protesting the construction of what will be the country’s largest mosque. The group, Pro Cologne, has even enlisted help from far-right activists in Belgium and Austria.

The protest is driven by a fear of the Islamization of Europe. This anxiety, which Philip Jenkins argues is overblown in a recent web exclusive for FP, is a variant of what one sociologist has described as “cultural displacement” — “the fear that your children will grow up in a world different than the one you grew up in.” In the United States, it’s captured by those white Americans who, in the face of a rising Hispanic population, worry about a day when Spanish will be the language on the streets and there will be more Miguels than Michaels. In Europe, it’s captured by a woman in Cologne who says she wants to feel at home, not as if she’s in a foreign land.

The issue of the mosque, which will have space for 2,000 worshipers, started receiving national attention in Germany after Jewish writer and Holocaust survivor Ralph Giordano said, “There is no fundamental right to the construction of a large mosque.” Pro Cologne has tried recruiting Giordano to its cause, but he has said the group is the “local variety of Nazism.”

With Europe’s low birthrates and growing immigrant population, it won’t at all be surprising to see far-right groups gain in popularity. When a people feel that they and their culture are essentially “going extinct” and being displaced by another group, expect extreme reactions. Already, Germany’s population has been decreasing, and wolves (pdf) are even reclaiming sparsely populated areas. With the rise of the far right, let’s hope that Germany doesn’t end up going the way it did in 1933.

Preeti Aroon was copy chief at Foreign Policy from 2009 to 2016 and was an FP assistant editor from 2007 to 2009. Twitter: @pjaroonFP

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