• Michael Nufrio
  • Story Title: 2018 ESI Anti-AfD Experience
  • Student Profile: Nufrio, Michael
  • Anti-AfD protestors

The European Summer Institute was so fulfilling that it isn't feasible to construct a brief summary of the entirety of my rewarding experience. In particular, our weekend venture to Berlin consisted of the most serendipitous encounter during my trip. In spite of the refugee crisis and economic recession, European populism is becoming one of the greatest threats to the continent. The AfD (Alternative for Deutschland) is a growing populist party in Germany and their anti-immigration, anti-European Union, and anti-Muslim messages have helped it become the third largest party in the German Bundestag. Coincidentally during our final day in Berlin, around 5,000 AfD demonstrators chose to march throughout the city giving nationalist speeches accompanied by disturbing racial rhetoric. But the marching AfD supporters faced an overwhelming retaliation as 20,000 anti-AfD protestors responded with 13 registered counter-demonstrations. Our ESI group joined the massive crowd of anti-AfD protestors in a techno party with music blasting from speakers on slow driving trucks aiming to “Bass the AfD away”. We paraded down the streets of Berlin following the trucks with thousands of others carrying signs supporting the coexistence between different religions and gender-identities. That day, I did not feel like an American citizen but a member of the global community with extended obligations. Populism had factored into two of the worst human atrocities in the previous century and I was witnessing similar popular protests in a very nascent stage. Knowing the consequences that European popular protest can bring, I felt inclined to join the parade and celebrate the coexistence and freedom that must be preserved in the postwar society.