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Cablegate: Broad Opposition Forms Against "Anti-Islamization Congress"

VZCZCXRO4909
RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN RUEHLZ
RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHDF #0036 2611537
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 171537Z SEP 08
FM AMCONSUL DUSSELDORF
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0164
INFO RUCNFRG/FRG COLLECTIVE
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHDF/AMCONSUL DUSSELDORF 0180

UNCLAS DUSSELDORF 000036

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KISL CASC ASEC GM
SUBJECT: BROAD OPPOSITION FORMS AGAINST "ANTI-ISLAMIZATION CONGRESS"
IN COLOGNE

REF: 07 DUESSELDORF 22 (JUNE 26, 2007 "TALE OF TWO MOSQUES")

1. (U) Summary: Plans by the anti-immigrant, far right group
"Pro Koeln" to hold a so-called "Anti-Islamization Congress" on
September 19-20 in Cologne have provoked broad opposition from
all major political parties, trade unions, and churches, as well
as radical leftist and anarchist groups. Organizers expect
about 1,000 participants from Germany and other European
countries at the event, while Cologne police plan for as many as
40,000 counter demonstrators and have taken major security
measures in view of potential violence. Mission Germany issued
a Warden Message on September 17. End Summary.

Gathering of Anti-Immigrant Groups
--------------------------------------------

2. (U) "Pro Koeln," a local anti-immigrant, far right group
which gained 4.7 percent of the popular vote in the 2004
municipal elections, made national headlines by attempting to
prevent the construction of Germany's largest mosque in the city
(Reftel). The plan was approved by the Cologne City Council on
August 28. In response, "Pro Koeln" has gone ahead with plans
for an "Anti-Islamization Congress," which includes a September
20 public rally under the slogan "No to Islamization - No to
Cologne's Mega Mosque." In its announcement, "Pro Koeln" listed
keynote speakers from abroad, including Jean Marie Le Pen (Front
National, France), Hans-Christian Strache (FPO, Austria), Filip
Dewinter (Vlaams Belang, Belgium), and Mario Borghezio (Lega
Nord, and MEP from Italy). Le Pen's office, however, has
reportedly denied he has accepted the invitation, and Strache
canceled his participation, promising to send a video message.
A Bundestag backbencher, Henry Nitzsche from Saxony
(independent, formerly CDU), is also scheduled to speak at the
rally.

Broad Coalition Builds Against Congress
--------------------------------------------- ----

3. (U) Over the past several weeks, a broad alliance has been
formed at the local and state level to oppose the event.
Several counter demonstrations with an estimated participation
of as many as 40,000 people have been scheduled before and
during a "Pro Koeln" rally on September 20. The main counter
demonstration will take place in front of the Cologne Cathedral
with Cologne Lord Mayor Fritz Schramma (CDU) as the main
speaker. Schramma has called on the citizens of Cologne to show
their opposition to the "Pro Koeln" event with non-violent,
peaceful means, reflecting concerns by police that leftist and
anarchist "autonomous" groups might be posed to engage in
violent clashes with rightwing followers and the police.

4. (U) On September 15, Bundestag Foreign Affairs Committee
Chairman Ruprecht Polenz, who also chairs the "Christian-Muslim
Peace Initiative," together with Schramma and leading
representatives of the "Turkish-Islamic Union" (DITIB), kicked
off a poster campaign in Cologne under the slogan "Dialogue and
Tolerance instead of Aggression and Fear." A resolution
entitled "Against Racism and Xenophobia - For Diversity and
Tolerance" was introduced by all four parties in North
Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) legislature on 9/11 and is likely to be
unanimously adopted on September 18. The resolution expresses
concern about the "Anti-Islamization Congress," stating that it
runs counter to the "joint efforts of all political parties in
the NRW Landtag to intensify intercultural and inter-religious
dialogue." Minister-President Juergen Ruettgers (CDU) also
warned against the event, stressing that he and his party are
'opposed to any form of extremism, either from the right or
left" and that the CDU must prevent the establishment of a
political force to its right.

Warden Message Issued
-----------------------------

5. (U) In view of police concerns over the potential for
violence, Mission Germany on September 17 issued a Warden
Message advising American citizens to defer non-essential travel
to Cologne on September 19 and 20, and encouraging American
citizens in the Cologne area to avoid areas of demonstrations,
if possible.

6. (U) This cable was coordinated with Embassy Berlin and
Consulate General Frankfurt.

BOYSE

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