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Islamification Debate

DW staff (jen)August 8, 2008

A well-known Holocaust survivor has said he strongly opposes the international anti-Islam conference slated to take place in Germany next month, despite his critical stance on Islam.

Writer and publicist Ralph Giordano
Giordano: 'I would defend any Muslim from xenophobia'Image: picture-alliance/ dpa

German Jewish writer and Holocaust survivor Ralph Giordano has come out strongly against the planned so-called Anti-Islamization Congress -- a meeting of extreme-right European political forces -- planned for Sept. 19-20 in Cologne.

A demonstrators' sign reading 'Pro-Koeln are Nazis'
Demonstrators have opposed Pro KoelnImage: picture alliance/dpa

The right-wing extremist groups Pro Koeln and Pro NRW are organizing the event, with the aim of issuing a declaration opposed to the purported "Islamification" of Europe.

Big names in xenophobia

The meeting will be attended by some of the most inflammatory names in European race politics, including Jean- Marie Le Pen of France, Austria's Heinz-Christian Strache, and Belgium's Filip Dewinter.

In the past, the Pro Koeln and Pro NRW have invoked comments by Giordano, who has said he considers German integration policy a failure. He has also warned of "false tolerance" in the prosecution of foreign juvenile delinquents.

But Giordano now says he does not want to be "instrumentalized" by the extreme right at the conference.

Denouncing Pro Koeln's motives

"The motives of a Holocaust survivor cannot be the same as those of the next brown guard," he said.

Demonstrators holding signs with struck-through mosque images
Opponents rally against the planned Cologne mosqueImage: picture alliance/dpa

Giordano said his protests against the "symptoms of a political and militant Islam" have always been based on his desire to "protect the constitutional state based on fundamental rights."

The Pro Koeln movement doesn't want any democracy at all, he said, adding that he would "defend any Muslim who is affected by anti-foreigner feeling or xenophobia."

Moreover, he denounced the planned Pro-Koeln demonstration as a "gathering of the creme de la creme of European Holocaust deniers."

Criticism of mosque plan

In the past, Giordano has been criticized for saying a disputed plan to build a large mosque in downtown Cologne belies Germany's "failed integration" policy. He said he has received death threats from the Muslim community for his stances.

What Germany has seen instead is a "clash of two completely different cultures," Giordano once told the daily Stuttgarter Nachrichten. "The question is whether these cultures can ever be reconciled."