German intelligence services said on Friday they would widen their surveillance of Islamophobic protest movement Pegida in its home state of Saxony, as the group had become “extremist” and “anti-constitutional”.
While Pegida had previously attracted “heterogeneous” support and taken “moderate” positions, it had developed “an increasingly right-wing extremist orientation”, Saxony’s domestic intelligence agency LfV said.
“By regularly offering right-wing extremists a platform to propagate anti-constitutional ideologies, this movement acts as a hinge between extremists and non-extremists,” said agency president Dirk-Martin Christian.
He added that “all people and activities” within the group would now be put under surveillance, with the exception of those merely taking part in peaceful demonstrations.
Pegida, which campaigns against what it calls the “Islamisation of the West”, was born in October 2014 with xenophobic marches every Monday evening.
Its protests gained momentum during the refugee crisis of 2015, when Germany became deeply polarised over Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to keep the country’s doors open to asylum seekers.