Pro-Köln supporters were met with whistles and paint bombs hurled by leftist activists, and there was an another incident between the right-wingers and activists in the city's Rodenkirchen district. But no one was injured, police reported.
According to an AP report protesters gathered outside city hall in Cologne's borough of Rodenkirchen to prevent two leaders of the Pro-Köln (For Cologne) movement from entering the building where they were to hold a news conference.
Police moved in to build a protective ring around the two men, amid shouts of "Shame on you!" and "Get lost!" from the angry crowd. The two fasicistis were turned away at the door by a city official on orders from the mayor.
The three-day racist gathering, which includes a rally at the site of a mosque under construction, is organised by the Pro-Köln or “Pro-Cologne” fascist like group and is expected to attract support from nationalists across Europe.
We refuse to let our continent become "Eurabia" or some multicultural Tower of Babel," Pro Koeln (Pro-Cologne), the organizer of the "Anti-Islamification Congress,"said in a pamphlet on its website.
"We want to preserve our homelands, our cities, our towns and villages, our civilization and our way of life."
Der Speigal reports more than 40,000 counterprotesters are also expected in the city, and police are describing it as one of their "most difficult assignments" ever. Cologne, after all, is home to 330,000 people with immigrant backgrounds -- among them 64,000 holding Turkish passports. Three-thousand police officers from all over the state of North Rhine-Westphalia will be deployed in the city. The magazine writes:
"A three-day battle between Germany's right- and left-wing scenes is expected as the conference opens, with players in both camps converging from all over Germany to attend protests surrounding the event. In the left-wing scene, some have already been trained in blockading techniques so that they can attempt to paralyze the conference this weekend."
Pro Cologne disputes the tag of fascists that some (like me) give it. Instead identifying itself as a moderate conservative catch-all group for those opposed to what it describes as the Islamization of German society.
And Hitler was just a guy with a funny mustache who was opposed to the "Judaization" of German society.
By the way it isn't just left wingers and anarchists who are opposed to the gathering. Trade unions, churches and other groups have also announced plans to protest against the conference. The anti-Muslim conference has drawn fire from German politicians and local residents as well.
Mayor Fritz Schramma called on Cologne residents to show the far-right "the cold shoulder."
“Populist right-wing rat catchers openly in favor of exclusion and who stir up fear are not welcome here,” the mayor stressed.
Juergen Ruettgers, the premier of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia said, "Those who abuse the cosmopolitan and democratic city of Cologne as a meeting place for right-wing radicals are against tolerance, against reconciliation, against humanity."
The Local (Germany) says those attending the conference may find it hard to get a glass of Cologne's famous Kölsch beer, with 150 of Cologne's bars putting up banners promising "No Kölsch for Nazis." Some 200,000 beer mats have also been printed with the same message.
The US Embassy issued a statement advising Americans to "defer non-essential travel to Cologne at this time."
For an earlier related Oread Daily article go to http://oreaddaily.blogspot.com/2008/09/fascist-racist-anti-islamisation.html .
The following is from Deutsche Welle.
"Anti-Islamification" Congress in Cologne Sparks Clashes
Demonstrators and counter-protesters clashed Friday at the start of a controversial international "anti-Islamification congress" in the western German city of Cologne.
The two-day event has been organised by members of the far-right Pro-Koeln (For Cologne), who were met with whistles and paint bombs hurled by about 100 leftist activists.
Counter-demonstrators carried signs with slogans including "Stop the Nazi Congress -- Stop Pro Koeln" and a few scuffled with the right-wing organisers. One leftist protester was briefly detained by police, a spokesman said.
Some 3,000 police officers from North Rhine-Westphalia and neighboring states are being deployed in Cologne this weekend in the hope that they'll be able to maintain peace and security.
The organizers from Pro Koeln -- a self-described "civil movement" which has, however, been represented on the municipal council for four years now -- are among the most vocal opponents to a project to build a new mosque in Cologne.
The group used the recent green-lighting of the construction plans to rally together other far-right groups in Europe who share its view that German and Europe are increasingly becoming "Islamicized."
Government, experts label Pro-Koeln extremist
A spokeswoman for the German interior ministry criticised the event Friday, calling Pro-Koeln an "extremist" group that aimed to undermine good relations between Muslims and non-Muslims.
In chorus, a foreign affairs spokesperson for the federal government said: "In our country there is no place for radical right-wing groups who discriminate against minorities under the guise of a citizens’ movement."
Wolfgang Kapust, an expert on the far-right definitively labeled Pro-Koeln an extremist grouping.
"You can see it in the biographies of their leaders. They're members of the National Democratic Party, they're in the Republicans, and they established the very radical German League for People and Homeland. And all of these organizations and parties are characterized by far-right positions, racism, and a strong sense of nationalism."
No Koelsch for Nazis
A wide majority of Cologne residents are planning to clearly show that they want nothing to do with the congress. They've made hundreds of signs calling for passive resistance to the event. The city's barkeepers have declared that they will not be serving any of the local Cologne beer, Koelsch, to Nazis. And Muslim groups in this city where every eighth resident is Muslim have planned peaceful gatherings on the site of the planned mosque.
Some onlookers are wondering why the city hasn't banned the congress from taking place. But politician Ruprecht Polenz, head of a Christian-Muslim peace initiative, said that's not so easily done.
"They're clever," he said. "They're not going to show up sporting swastikas. Rather, they'll use slogans meant to pick up on any resentments. There are problems with integration. The question is, how do I handle it? Do I contribute to the problem by reacting aggressively, or do I try, with dialogue, to get to the bottom of things and get closer to a solution?"
Cologne residents to give the cold shoulder
Cologne's city government has also had mixed feelings about hosting the congress, and not because of the bill of more than a million euros the city will have to foot once it's all over. Officials are worried about the bad name that such an event could give a city that prides itself on being an exceptionally tolerant place to live.
Mayor Fritz Schramma has called on residents to show the far-right "the cold shoulder."
"Shut your windows and doors, lower your shutters," he said in a statement. "Make it clear to Pro Koeln and its camarilla: You are not welcome in Cologne."
The right-wing extremists have been denied permission to gather in front of the city's most famous landmark, the Cologne Cathedral. Instead, the event has been relegated to a city suburb.
Whether Pro Koeln's attempt to unify Europe's nationalists will succeed in Cologne remains to be seen. In the run-up to the event, the organizers boasted that big names on the far-right scene would be in attendance -- Jean Marie Le Pen, the head of France's National Front, for example, or the head of the Austria's Freedom Party.
Le Pen, for his part, has already let it be known that Pro-Koeln was lying. He said he had never had any plans to come to Cologne.