Immigrants have been long-cast as underdogs and victims. However, in recent years, the seeming charity of inviting foreigners into one’s country has come under close scrutiny as more and more harms to the country’s natives have come to the surface.
On Jan. 12, nearly 25,000 protestors affiliated with PEGIDA (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West) filled city streets in Dresden, Germany to demonstrate their grievances with the current immigration policies and those who practice Islam.
Protesting against an entire religion may come across a hateful viewpoint to convince thousands in the democratically minded Europe, but Eastern Germany, where Dresden in located, has higher unemployment rates and higher numbers of people experiencing unrest, according to the German news source, DW (Deutsche Welle). The news source claims that those in East Germany feel like “losers of the globalization process,” which explains why Eastern Germany is so much more inflamed in its opinions and aggravated enough to start large-scale protests.
Likewise, Carsten Kochhmieder, a political scientist at Berlin’s Free University, said that “people [in East Germany] are afraid of losing their jobs … they are looking for an easy answer and blaming foreigners. It’s an irrational fear.”
This protest occurred in the wake of recent and long-suffered terrorist attacks upon European nations, and is an extravagant flourish of the democratic freedom of expression. While those who find themselves left-minded may notice flaws in the protestors’ logic and see them as hatefully segregating by religion, the protesters plead for observers to think about the tremendous harm that has come to their individual country through the works of jihadist Muslims.
The protest was largely driven by a desire to tighten immigration policy in Germany so that Muslims would have a more difficult time to enter the nation. The anti-immigration sentiment closely mirrors the US’ own zeitgeist at the Southern border, where thousands of individuals expressed their distrust and anxiety by protesting against Mexican immigrants entering their country.
“A lot of people feel neglected,” said Jim Gilchrist, who heads the Minuteman Project that works to help enforce American immigration laws.
However, there are those in the US that find problems with turning people away from starting new lives as American citizens. Openborders.com argues that immigration has been historically beneficial to the growth of our nation, by “expand[ing] greatly in population and [leading] the world in terms of increases in its standard of living and increases in per capita income.” This is proof, to those at openborders.com, that “assimilating … immigrants will be possible for the United States and will lead to greater prosperity for the nation.”
Similarly, in Germany, the PEGIDA protestors were met with incredible pushback, encountering up to 80,000 counter protestors, according to USA Today.
One protestor, Selma Heisenberg, was reported saying, “The majority of Germans aren’t like PEGIDA.”
What is it about the economic fear of losing one’s job to immigrants that would provoke thousands of people from distant parts of the world to protest an entire people group and attempt to prevent them from starting new lives in opportunity-filled nations?
One might feel assurance in the fact that there are still more people, as evidenced by the German counter protests, that are willing to distinguish logically planned, specific protests from hateful, racist complaints that unfortunately pervade our world.
Reassuringly, the cry in Dresden rang out from the tens of thousands of counter protesters: “Say it loud, say it clear: Refugees are welcome here.”