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A Clash of Civilizations?: Pegida and the Rise of Cultural Nationalism

David N. Coury

Keywords: Pegida; clash of civilizations; Islam; Benjamin Barber; cultural nationalism; immigration, cultural values

Since its founding in 2014, Pegida has positioned itself as a populist movement striving to limit immigration and to preserve Germany’s cultural heritage. It has also aligned itself with other right-wing European political groups whose exclusionary views are rooted in theories of a civilizational clash between the West and the Islamic world. Pegida’s pushback against immigration also includes appeals to resist globalization and the growth of multiculturalism by embracing what Verena Stolcke has termed “cultural fundamentalism.” This ideology assumes cultural hierarchies and segregates religious and ethnic groups spatially and geographical as a means to maintain cultural uniformity. In doing so, Pegida posits that it is not racist or xenophobic, rather that it seeks solidarity in maintaining Western cultural values. The danger in Pegida’s ideology is that it rejects not only constitutional principles and notions of cultural pluralism, but that it furthers a cultural divide that need not exist and, in fact, embraces an exclusionary nationalism that is not unlike the values that they purport to reject.

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