(Bloomberg) -- Thousands of Germans have joined nationwide protests against the far-right Alternative for Germany party (AfD) after the revelation of a meeting in which senior party members discussed a deportation scheme that echoed Nazi policies of the 1930s.
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More than 30,000 people took to the streets in the western city of Cologne on Tuesday evening to demonstrate against right-wing extremism and the rise of the AfD, according to local police. In Berlin on Wednesday the crowd numbered 3,500, in what was the fifth consecutive day that thousands have joined demonstrations across the country.
German news outlet Correctiv last week published a report about a November meeting in the outskirts of Berlin at which senior AfD politicians, right-wing extremists and two members of the main opposition Christian Democrats discussed the “re-migration” of millions of foreign passport-holders and citizens they judged to be insufficiently “assimilated.”
The AfD ranks second in national opinion polls and leads in the three former East German states which are holding regional elections this year. In those states the party’s branches are officially classified as right-wing extremist, meaning authorities face fewer legal obstacles to surveiling them.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who on Sunday joined a rally in his home town of Potsdam near Berlin, has vowed a zero-tolerance approach against what he called “fanatics with assimilation fantasies.”
“I am grateful that tens of thousands of people are taking to the streets across Germany these days against racism and hate speech and in favor of our liberal democracy,” he said in a statement released on social media on Wednesday. Many more demonstrations are planned across Germany in the coming days.
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