Protesting against the far right outside the Reichstag in Berlin, Germany, last Sunday (Flickr: Magnus Hagdorn)

A wave of anti-fascist revulsion swept Germany last weekend, as around 1.4 million people took to the streets in small towns and big cities. The protests were a response to recent revelations of a meeting between leading figures in the far right AfD party, and other, even more open Nazis.

The meeting proposed that millions of “foreigners” should be deported from Germany, including German citizens and those born in the country. For millions of people, the sickening plan is deeply reminiscent of the Nazis in the 1930s and 40s.

The anti-fascist demonstration in Munich last Sunday was so large that organisers cancelled a planned march in favour of a static rally out of safety fears. Organisers said that around 200,000 people had turned up, eight times more than were registered for the event.

In the capital Berlin, over 100,000 marched. Crucially, thousands turned out in Dresden—the capital of the eastern region of Saxony where the AfD is leading in the polls. Munich protester Katrin Delrieux said she hoped the protests would “make a lot of people rethink” their positions.

“Some might not be sure whether they will vote for the AfD or not, but after this protest they simply cannot,” she said. German premier Olaf Scholz joined a demonstration saying any plan to expel immigrants or citizens alike amounted to “an attack against our democracy, and in turn, on all of us”.

Fine words. Except that Scholz’s Labour-like SPD party has long been in discussions with the conservative CDU party about joint plans to expel asylum seekers and deter more migrants. That has fuelled growing racism, legitimised anti-migrant hate and boosted the AfD’s popularity.

The far right party is second in polls for forthcoming regional and European elections. There were huge anti-racist protests in France last Sunday too. More than 150,000 people demonstrated against the government’s new anti-migrant law.

The protests, which involved trade unions and the main parties on the parliamentary left, followed action the week before by more radical groups, led by undocumented workers. The 164 marches nationwide included 25,000 on the streets in Paris, 10,000 in Marseille, 4,000 in Rennes, 4,000 in Toulouse, 3,000 in Montpellier and Lille and 2,000 in Caen.

The law restricts benefits for migrants, allows parliament to set immigration quotas and children born in France to migrant parents will no longer automatically receive French citizenship. The law, passed with the support of Marine Le Pen’s fascists, was set to go to the state’s constitutional council on Thursday this week.

Undocumented migrant groups called for protests on the day and some education unions called for strikes. President Emmanuel Macron will hope that the council might peel off one or two of the harsher measures but will allow it to pass. The danger of racism and the far right was also highlighted in Italy last week.

The high court has ruled that fascist salutes are legal at rallies unless they threaten public order or risk reviving Italy’s outlawed fascist party. The decision will have delighted fascist prime minister Giorgia Meloni.

Both the state and the far right in Italy are targeting migrants—and those that help them. The anti-racist battles across Europe show the stakes are high. It’s vital that the left continues to mobilise and show there is an alternative to the far right.

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