Europeans demonstrate for openness and unity on 13 October

, by Juuso Järviniemi

Europeans demonstrate for openness and unity on 13 October
European flags were prominent in the series of 13-10 events whose stated purposes included defending European unity. Photograph from the local event in Turin, Italy. Photo: Marioluca Barona (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Saturday 13 October saw demonstrations across Europe in favour of an open, free society and European unity. The umbrella of promoted events held in cities such as Berlin and Florence, gathering a total of hundreds of thousands of people on the streets.

The 13-10 call to action, initiated by writer Jonas Lüscher and philosopher Michael Zichy, highlighted “nationalism and European disintegration” as the concerns that inspired them to bring together the “pro-European and pro-democratic demonstration [...] to reignite the European spirit”. Different collectives, including the Unteilbar-Bündnis in Berlin, the European federalist movement in Italian cities such as Florence, DiEM25 in various locations - including many Italian cities where it cooperated with the federalists, as well as places such as Madrid - and the Citizens of Poland movement in various Polish cities, organised more than 50 events on the weekend.

The largest event, bearing the name #unteilbar (#indivisible) took place in Berlin, where organisers estimated a turnout of 240,000. In the German political context where racism has visibly manifested itself in the Chemnitz riots and on other occasions, the march stood in defence of human rights, especially for migrants to Germany.

In many of the pictures assembled on the Facebook page, European flags have a strong presence. In a number of Italian events, a specifically European federalist perspective was highlighted. The main event attended by JEF Italy took place in Florence to protest “against nationalism and for a more united and democratic Europe”.

The variety of events across Europe had a recognisably common ethos, and many were organised by pan-European movements. Not only did the events defend an open, free and European society, but they also contributed to creating a European civic space themselves. 13 October exhibited the readiness of the ‘silent majority’ to defend what we have achieved as Europeans, and to strengthen the tolerant, democratic system we have created.

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