RELIGION
01/14/2015 08:55 am ET

How Germany's Pegida Movement Is Exploiting The Paris Terror Attacks

Last week, a terror attack at the office of French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo in Paris and two subsequent hostage situations claimed the lives of 17 victims. While French citizens and more than 40 world leaders came together on Sunday to march in solidarity, there is fear that the Islamic violence may inflame right wing xenophobia in Europe.

One anti-Islamic group appears to have already begun using the attack to bolster its movement. Just as word of the Charlie Hebdo attack began to spread, Pegida, a German grassroots organization aimed at defending “Judeo-Christian” values, took to social media to condemn Islamic extremism.

“Just half an hour after the shooting, I looked at the Facebook page of Pegida to see whether they [would] instrumentalize the shooting in Paris, and they did,” financial consultant Christian Gahrmann told HuffPost Live on Monday. “There was already a message, something like, ‘So you say you have no fear [towards] Muslims, and now see what happened.'"

Although Pegida rallies have reached record numbers within the past week, Gahrmann assured HuffPost Live host Ricky Camilleri that supporters of the group are still largely a “minority” in Germany.

“I was on a anti-Pegida demonstration in Cologne ... and the relation of people demonstrating for Pegida and people demonstrating against Pegida was one to 200,” he said. “So there were more than 20,000 people for the multicultural open Cologne city and only 500 [who] were demonstrating for the goal of Pegida.”

Germany's Cologne Cathedral also turned off its lights to show a symbolic rejection of the anti-Islam demonstration that took place in the city on Jan 5., Gahrmann added.

Watch the clip below for more information about the origins of the Pegida group, or head to HuffPost Live to check out the full conversation about the growing movement.

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