Germany’s Far-Right Rebrands: Friendlier Face, Same Doctrine

GERMANY - Christmas carols were playing and the scent of ginger hung in the crisp December air. Students sold organic plum compote and served mulled wine in biodegradable cups made from sugar cane. But then there were the postcards. “Islamization? Not with us,” read one. “Defend yourself! This is your country,” urged another. “Fortress Europe,” said a third. “Shut the borders.”

This was no ordinary Christmas market, but one hosted by Generation Identity, a far-right youth movement under observation by several European intelligence services. Part hippie, part hipster, the activists of Generation Identity are one result of a broad image makeover the far right has tried to give itself in recent years. Better dressed, better educated and less angry than the skinheads of old — at least in public — they see themselves on the front line of a counter-revolution fought by a loose but increasingly well-networked web of actors in politics, publishing, civil society and business who call themselves the “new right.”

Their aim: to bring down liberalism and rid Europe of non-European immigrants. The “new right” seeks to distance itself from the “old right,” which in Germany means neo-Nazis. Many analysts and officials consider this little more than clever rebranding. But they worry that it could allow groups like Generation Identity to act as a conduit between conservatism and extremism and draw young people into their orbit. “They have given extremism a friendly face,” said Stephan Kramer, the domestic intelligence chief of the east-central state of Thuringia.

“A deliberate infiltration of democratic institutions is taking place.” Despite having cleaned up their language, Mr von Notz said, “They are deeply anti-Democratic, often very anti-Semitic and openly racist.” “We don’t want to become minorities in our own countries,” said Alex Malenki, a 26-year-old business student from Saxony who posts video blogs on YouTube. "This is where liberalism has failed," Mr Kramer said.

“These people operate in the moral vacuum that has been left by our politicians,” he said. “Patriotism, community, identity - these are instinctive needs people have and that were denied them for a long time.” That some of their views can now be heard in Parliaments and on the street gives them a new quality. “The question is: Can we still stop it?” Mr Kramer said. “That’s a question that concerns our liberal democracy.”

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Today we find the Church of God in a “wilderness of religious confusion!”

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