The anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany paid members to attend a rally in Berlin on Sunday May 27th where they protested against mass migration and expressed their worries about the future of Germany.
The AfD envisaged at least 2,500 people would attend the protest under the motto "Germany's future" and said demonstrators would wind their way through the centre of Berlin from the main train station to the Brandenburg Gate. Counter-protests were expected using slogans such as "Stop the hate. Stop the AfD."
Left-wing website Exif published an email in which Uwe Junge, leader of the AfD in the western state of Rhineland-Palatinate, offered the first 30 members in the region to come forward 50 euros to fund their travel to the demonstration.
Robin Classen, spokesman for the AfD in the western state of Rhineland-Palatinate, confirmed the contents of the email, saying the AfD there had considered chartering a bus, as other parties typically do for events or demonstrations but decided against that because its members were spread around the state. "It's a round trip of 1,200 kilometres. It's a half day of travelling so this isn't a payment for demonstrating - it's basically a drop in the ocean to make the journey more possible or easier for people," Classen asserted.
More than 1.6 million migrants, many from the Middle East, have arrived in Germany since 2014, becoming a major political issue which helped the AfD enter the national parliament for the first time in last year's election.