Not just about the mosque: The “Pro Köln” movement has roots in the German far right.
By Andrea Brandt and Guido Kleinhubbert
The four young men look unremarkable in Cologne’s downtown pedestrian zone. Now and then they press a pamphlet into somebody’s hand with a smile. They seem as harmless as volunteers gathering donations for, say, starving children in Africa; but their project belongs to a political movement that is being viewed with alarm by http://www.wvwnews.net/story.php?id=1068.
These young men handing out flyers work for an organization called “Pro Cologne,” which has been watched with suspicion by the domestic intelligence agency — the Verfassungsschutz or Office for the Protection of the Constitution — for several months. They are gathering support in the otherwise http://www.wvwnews.net/story.php?id=159 slated for construction in the district of Ehrenfeld. Around 300 members of Pro Cologne have collected more than 20,000 signatures, and a few unsavory characters on the German far right hope to use their success as a way to win seats in state parliaments.With a new political party called “Pro NRW” (Pro North-Rhine Westphalia), stemming from the Pro Cologne movement, two leaders named Markus Beisicht and Manfred Rouhs want to win enough votes to enter the state parliament in 2010. About a dozen Pro Cologne spinoffs are already preparing local campaigns across the state — in Gelsenkirchen, Duisburg, Düsseldorf, Essen and Bottrop, among other places. Where no new mosques are being planned, Beisicht says, the party will just fight smaller existing mosques.