Pro Germany Citizens' Movement
|Founded||20 January 2005|
|Headquarters||Allee der Kosmonauten 28
|Political position||Right-wing to Far-right|
The Pro Germany Citizens' Movement (German: Bürgerbewegung pro Deutschland) is a far-right political party in Germany. It was founded in Cologne on 20 January 2005 after Pro Cologne members had been elected to the Cologne City Council. Manfred Rouhs, treasurer of the Pro Cologne movement and former candidate of the German League for People and Homeland and the National Democratic Party of Germany, was elected its first chairman.
The party advocates law and order; lowering the age of criminal responsibility from 14 to 12 years of age; deportation of illegal immigrants, and the segregation of students with insufficient German language proficiency.
The headquarters of pro Germany are located in Berlin. The first state branch was formed in Berlin (Pro Berlin Citizen's Movement). The citizen's movements Pro NRW and Pro Cologne are only active in North Rhine-Westphalia and Cologne, respectively. The "Pro Movement", organised as an association, serves as an umbrella organisation to co-ordinate the activities of the formally independent parties.
The party's regional branch in Berlin contested the state election on 18 September 2011. Its electoral campaign has attracted considerable attention of the media. On 25 July, three days after the Norway attacks, Pro Germany supporters gathered for a "silent vigil" in front of the Norwegian embassy. Governing Mayor Klaus Wowereit sharply protested against the perceived disturbance of the commemoration. Later the critic of Islam Thilo Sarrazin successfully filed a suit against Pro Germany because they had used his name in their slogan "Wählen gehen für Thilos Thesen!" (Go to the polls for Thilo's theses!"). On 11 August, two Pro Germany campaigners were arrested. According to the police and media reports, they had charged at a migrant passerby with a hammer handle and assaulted a police officer with fists and pepper spray. Eventually, Pro Germany won 1.2% of the votes. Therefore, they failed to surmount the 5% threshold and did not win any seats in the House of Representatives.
Pro Cologne Citizen's Movement
The Pro Cologne Citizen's Movement (German: Bürgerbewegung pro Köln) was formed in 1996 as an offshoot of the extreme right-wing German League for People and Homeland. The far-right publisher Manfred Rouhs and the lawyer Markus Beisicht have been active in the association from its start. In the 1999 mayoral election, the party presented Stephan Flug as its candidate who won 0.3% of the votes. When the municipality planned to erect a mosque in Cologne's Chorweiler district, the citizen's movement organised a collection of signatures petitioning against the project. They could present 28,000 signatures against any mosque construction site in Cologne to the committee on petitions only shortly before the 2004 local elections. With the tailwinds from the signatures campaign, the voter's association could win 4.7% of the votes and four seats in the Cologne city council. In 2005, a fifth councillor joined Pro Cologne's group. The electoral success initiated the expansion of the party to the state and federal level.
In 2007 the movement ran another signature campaign against the Cologne Central Mosque in Ehrenfeld. They showed more than 23,000 signatures, however at least 7,000 of them were not valid and the citizen's initiative failed. In September 2008, Pro Cologne organised the Anti-Islamisation Congress, inviting Mario Borghezio and Filip Dewinter among others. Counter-protests and blockings prompted the police to cancel the congress and rally. The congress was repeated in May 2009. In the 2009 Cologne local election, the party won 5.4% of the votes and could defend its five council seats. The chairman of Pro Cologne, Markus Beisicht, candidated for mayor and won 4.8% of the votes.
The North Rhine-Westphalian domestic intelligence service (Verfassungsschutz) has observed the grouping. From 2004 to 2010 it has presented it in its annual reports for the suspicion of right-wing extremist aspirations. In October 2005, Pro Cologne filed a suit against the state to get the mention of the party removed from the annual report. Thereupon the Higher Administrative Court has ruled that there are sufficient factual indications for the suspicions, that justify the observation and mention in the report. Since 2011 the intelligence service has stated that the indications for anti-constitutional aspirations went beyond the scope of mere suspicion. According to their observations, the movement violates the human rights as specified in the German constitution.
According to FH Düsseldorf sociologist Alexander Häusler whose research focus is Neonazism, pro Germany can be considered a far-right movement on the fringes of right-wing extremism and right-wing populism. He sees ethnonationalist and racist as well as antisemitic strands, authoritarian ideas and the rejection of equality and discrimination of minorities in activities of pro Germany, particularly the campaigning against multiculturalism, building of mosques and minarets. However, according to the party program one can consider the party moderate right-wing.
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