(Bloomberg) — Hundreds of thousands of Germans took to the streets over the weekend to protest against far-right extremism and the rise of the anti-immigrant AfD party.
The mass protests follow the recent revelation of a meeting at which senior Alternative for Germany, or AfD, politicians and members of the main opposition Christian Democrats discussed a “re-migration” scheme that echoed Nazi policies of the 1930s.
Upwards of 250,000 people protested in various cities on Saturday, including Frankfurt and Hanover, where more than 70,000 people amassed. More than 50,000 people in Hamburg joined a protest against on Friday afternoon.
Rallies are expected on Sunday in Berlin, Germany’s capital, as well as Munich and Cologne, in what will mark the ninth day of nationwide protests.
Read more: Germany on Alert After Extremist ‘Re-Migration’ Plot Uncovered
Discussions at the meeting in November, which was exposed by investigative journalists, included a proposal for mass deportations of asylum seekers, other foreigners with the right to reside in Germany, and German nationals whom the participants deemed insufficiently “assimilated.”
“Right-wing extremists are attacking our democracy. They want to destroy our social cohesion,” Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in his weekly video podcast on Friday. “At a secret conference, these extremists discussed how they could kick millions of people out of our country.”
Scholz called on all citizens to take a stand and defend Germany’s open and pluralistic society against the threat of right-wing extremism.
The AfD has risen from the fringes of German politics to be second in national opinion polls, while support for Scholz’s three-party coalition has sagged. The right-wing party is projected to win three regional elections in eastern Germany in September.
The growing appeal of AfD has been driven by years of high energy and food costs, a jump in new arrivals of asylum seekers, and infighting among Scholz’s coalition.
Following the report about the deportation plans, though, a growing number of business executives have expressed concern about the rise of the far-right and warned against the threat it poses to Germany as an open society and attractive location to do business.
Share this article in your social network