The inhabitants of Munich let the Theresienwiese shine in a sea of ​​lights, against hatred and right-wing extremism.

Demonstration with signs and lights.

More than one hundred thousand people at the demonstration against right-wing extremism on Theresienwiese on February 11 Photo: Wolfgang Maria Weber/imago

MUNICH taz | Maurice Conrad, Bruneau and Mondmann are on the small stage in the middle of Theresienwiese and perform part of the musical program, including the anti-AfD song “Hand in Hand”. “Look around you,” they rap, “because for every doubt you have, there will now be a hundred people by your side.” Fits.

But the musicians' performance had to be briefly interrupted. This message from the organizers is too important, the number of participants is already known: “We are 300,000,” they warn those who have gathered on Theresienwiese Street to stand up against hatred, right-wing extremism, racism, antisemitism, etc. . Against everything that seems to be back in fashion in this country.

300,000! There is great joy at this overwhelming number, which is already suspiciously close to the number of participants in the legendary fairy lights of 1992. Then 400,000 people returned. At the end of this afternoon, the police were only talking about between 75,000 and 100,000 people; according to mayor Dieter Reiter, there were more than 100,000.

You already know that. Recently there has been a significant difference in the number of reported participants in some of the anti-hate events. At the demonstration three weeks ago in Siegestor, organizers spoke of some 320,000 protesters, but the police only claimed to have seen a third of them. At a large demonstration in Hamburg in mid-January, police said there were 50,000 participants. According to an investigation by the interior authorities, there were 180,000.

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“Migrate back to your knees!”

In any case, there are many who have gathered here, at the foot of Bavaria, on the meadow where the Oktoberfest is celebrated every autumn. Particularly impressive must be the view from the stage, something that the organizers and artists never tire of highlighting: “I have attended many demonstrations, but this one is different,” says one of the activist musicians. Or: “You look so good, that's crazy.”

People came from everywhere, from the main train station, from Schwanthalerhöhe, Sendlinger Tor, Poccistraße. They have Christmas lights wrapped around their bodies, they carry headlamps and flashlights, lots of electric flashlights, glowing balloons and anything else that shines and makes them shine. And of course they wave a lot of smartphones. Bonfires are prohibited due to the large number of people, but the protesters' imagination is enormous. Some wear hats with built-in electric candles.

In addition to the posters and flags. On one piece of cardboard it is written “Migrate again on your knees!”, and on another “colorful instead of horrible brown.” Someone waves the “Pace” flag, others hold signs that say “ekelhAfD.” Or: “Freedom, equality, FCKAFD.” Or simply: “No.”

Soap bubbles fly overhead and some older women with white umbrellas pass by. On the screens it is written “Grandmothers against the right.” Fridays for Future and a broad civil society alliance called for the “Sea of ​​Lights for Democracy.” “We will not allow the people of our country to be excluded and persecuted,” the appeal said. “We defend ourselves against right-wing extremism and disgusting deportation fantasies. The silent majority is no longer silent!”

This is the minimum consensus

The program was deliberately kept manageable and, above all, the music was announced in advance. East Frisian singer-songwriter Enno Bunger sat at the piano before the rappers. And the young climate activists Johannes and Julia serenaded the protesters: “Defend yourself, resist against fascism here in the country!”

However, the journalist and civic politician Düzen Tekkal, who directs the event, also wants to clarify some things: it is not about the particular interests of this or that group, but about a minimum consensus. They are all there to oppose the far right's hatred of people: conservatives, middle class people, leftists. “You don't have to be leftist to do that, you have to be a human being.” After the large demonstration at the Victory Gate, several sources criticized that the heterogeneous crowd had been co-opted by very left-wing activists for their objectives.

And now: “A sea of ​​lights of love and union,” as Tekkal describes it. But he also warns: “We all still need a lot of perseverance in the fight against right-wing extremism and the AfD.” It is not enough to be against, he says to great applause and also reminds us people that In the small towns of East Germany, the AfD took to the streets, which required more courage. “Muscle training for democracy and freedom” is what is currently taking place on Theresienwiese Street. “The AfD is afraid of us,” says Tekkal and demands: “Let's take this country back.”

At the end, the crowd chants, “We, we, are the firewall.”