German soccer fan clubs unite to fight radical Islam
A popular movement against Islam is growing in Germany, with similarities to the EDL. In Britain the EDL consists largely of young men who demonstrate against Islam. The British media has often claimed that the EDL grew out of the “soccer hooligan” sub-culture. While many who participate in EDL demonstrations are right-wingers, it is otherwise apolitical. EDL encourages a wide spectrum of British citizens to become active in the singular cause of halting Islamic immigration and the Islamification of British cities.
In Germany, “Hooligans gegen Salafisten” appears to be a growing broad spectrum anti-Islamification movement.
The German media is demonizing the movement with the usual “Nazi” slur. The English language DW.DE article below includes stock photographs that are meant to demonize, but do not actually appear to have anything to do with the movement.
Online, Hooligans gegen Salafisten social media pages are being banned on Facebook and other sites.
However, the movement just held a huge public demonstration the city of Dortmund, in North Rhine-Westfalia. The event attracted over 300 supporters. Leaders of a minor anti-immigration political party Pro NRW, helped organize the event. Soccer clubs have held meetings in at least three other cities, Monchengladbach, Hannover and Mannheim, to promote unity in the fight against the Islamification of Germany.
It began on Facebook, where anti-Islam soccer fans have been venting their anger in online forums for months now. But lately, in German cities, like Essen, Nuremberg, Mannheim, Frankfurt and Dortmund, hostile and extremely violent hooligans, usually at odds with each other, have united against a new enemy: Salafists – a radical and militant branch of Islam.
Their initiative, currently known as Ho.Ge.Sa. – “Hooligans gegen Salafisten” (“Hooligans against Salafists”) – has seen its profile repeatedly blocked by Facebook, but it always reappears under another name. It’s here that the group is stoking the flames against the hard-line Salafist movement. Next stop: a demonstration planned for October 26 in front of the Cologne Cathedral.
The current mood and the protests organized by Kurds across Europe are giving hooligans and right-wing sympathizers the chance to “apparently demonstrate against the Salafists, but really only to express their own Islamophobia,” Olaf Sundermeyer, a journalist and author, told DW .
“We are ‘hooligans against Salafixxxx.’ Together, we are strong,” reads the group’s Facebook page. They see themselves as “a movement that has brought together hooligans, ultras, soccer fans and ordinary citizens in a common fight against the worldwide ‘Islamic State’ terror campaign and the nationwide Salafist movement.”
In Facebook posts and on banners at their demonstrations, they call their group the “resistance” against “the true enemies of our shared homeland.” The latest protest in Dortmund drew around 400 people. “On 26.10.2014 in Cologne, we will significantly increase this number of participants,” a moderator recently announced on the site. “Peaceful, unmasked and without rioting.”
These slogans have actually served to bring together opposing hostile fan bases, who usually meet up before and after sports events to fight each other. Gunter A. Pilz, an expert on fan behavior from the Sport University in Hanover, calls this phenomenon “a temporary fighting alliance.” However, he said that this coalition will only last as long as the common enemy: the Salafists.
Sundermeyer, who points out that anti-Islam attitudes are widespread in the soccer fan scene, said there’s a risk that extreme right-wing groups will be tolerated because the brutality of “Islamic State” militants in Syria and Iraq is proof to many that Salafists are the greater evil.