SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Agency)- The increasing rallies against Islam in Germany have been condemned by a powerful German business leader as “unacceptable”, saying it undermines the country’s interests and values and tries “to smear a whole religion”.
“We have long been a land of immigration and we must remain so,” Ulrich Grillo, the president of the German Federation of Industry, told German news agency DPA.
“As a prosperous country, and also out of Christian love for our fellow man, our country should take in more refugees.”
Speaking on Tuesday, Grillo lamented that the emergence of the group “Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the Occident” or PEGIDA, which has been holding weekly marches, was undermining the country’s interests and values, OnIslam.net reported.
Grillo blasted the PEGIDA protests, which organizers have billed as a grassroots movement, calling participants “neo-Nazis and xenophobes”.
He said the group was trying to harness fears of terrorism “to smear a whole religion” which he called “unacceptable”.
Grillo’s BDI represents the political interests of more than 100,000 German companies employing around eight million people.
He asserted that Europe’s top economy needed more immigration to remain competitive and should take in more asylum seekers.
Moreover, he added that Germany’s rapidly ageing population needed a strong influx of qualified newcomers to support the economy and the social welfare system.
“Considering our demographic development, immigration ensures growth and prosperity,” he said.
He urged political leaders to do more to stand up to PEGIDA.
“The political class has got to try harder to make citizens see the opportunities and diminish their fears,” he said.
A record 17,500 people joined a PEGIDA march against what they called the “Islamization” of Germany in the eastern city of Dresden late Monday in the 10th demonstration in as many weeks, with smaller clone groups rallying in three western cities.
About 4,500 counter-demonstrators marched under the slogan “Dresden Nazi-free”, warning that there was no room for racism and xenophobia in the country.
Germany is believed to be home to nearly 4 million Muslims, including 220,000 in Berlin alone. Turks make up an estimated two thirds of the Muslim minority.
Germans have grown hostile to the Muslim presence recently, with a heated debate on the Muslim immigration into the country.
A recent poll by the Munster University found that Germans view Muslims more negatively than their European neighbors.