Tens of thousands protest against right wing extremists in Germany –

Tens of thousands protest against right-wing extremists in Germany – Al Jazeera English

Public outcry followed revelations that the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party had discussed plans to mass deport immigrants.

Tens of thousands of people have gathered across Germany to protest against a far-right political party and its stance towards migrants.

On Saturday, people protested in several cities and towns, some mocking the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party with signs reading “Facism is not an alternative,” German media reported.

The protests followed an outcry after it emerged that AfD members had held a meeting with far-right activists and discussed plans to mass deport foreigners.

According to police, around 35,000 people joined a call under the motto “Defend democracy – Frankfurt against the AfD” that marched in Germany's financial center.

A similar number, some with placards reading “Nazis out,” showed up in the northern city of Hanover.

There were also protests in cities such as Braunschweig, Erfurt and Kassel as well as many smaller cities, reflecting the daily mobilization over the past week. According to police, around 50,000 people demonstrated in Hamburg, Germany's second largest city, on Friday.

In total, there were demonstrations in around 100 locations across Germany from Friday to the weekend, including in Berlin on Sunday.

Politicians, churches and Bundesliga coaches are calling for resistance against the AfD.

On January 10, a report by investigative media outlet Correctiv revealed that AfD members had discussed expelling immigrants and “unassimilated citizens” at a meeting with other far-right activists.

Among those taking part in the talks was Martin Sellner, a leader of Austria's Identitarian Movement, which subscribes to the “great replacement” conspiracy theory, which claims there is a conspiracy by non-white migrants to replace Europe's “native” white population.

“An attack on our democracy”

News of the far-right rally sent shockwaves across Germany at a time when the AfD is in second place in nationwide polls, just months before three major regional elections in eastern Germany, where its support is strongest.

The anti-immigration party confirmed the presence of its members at the meeting, but denied adopting the “remigration” project represented by Sellner. Co-leader Alice Weidel separated from one of her advisors who had taken part in the discussions.

But leading politicians, including Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who joined a demonstration last weekend, said any plan to expel immigrants or citizens would be “an attack on our democracy and therefore on all of us.” He called on “everyone to take a stand – for cohesion, for tolerance, for our democratic Germany.”

Representatives of the country's business community also expressed their concerns.

“If everything is true as reported, then that is absolutely disgusting,” Siemens Energy Chairman Joe Kaeser said in an interview with Portal published on Saturday.

Kaeser's comments came after executives at German companies including chipmaker Infineon and chemical maker Evonik expressed concerns earlier this week.

Kaeser emphasized the lessons from German history, warned of the damage to Germany's global image and called on German companies to publicly warn of the consequences.