SHAFAQNA – Weekly anti-Islam protests are gathering pace across Germany, with a record number of people reported to have attended the latest rally in Dresden.
At least 17,000 people took part in the city’s 10th demonstration in as many weeks, police estimated.
That is the highest turnout since the group Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident, or PEGIDA, began organising protests in the east German city in October.
Back then the group boasted just a few hundred protesters.
Protesters gathered outside Dresden’s historic Semperoper concert hall sang Christmas carols while brandishing flags with anti-immigration slogans.
“Germany is not a land of immigration,” PEGIDA leader Lutz Bachmann told the cheering crowd.
Further anti-Islam rallies were held in Munich, Berlin, Rostock, Würzburg, Düsseldorf, and Bonn, with varying attendance.
Participants hold German national flags during a demonstration organised by anti-immigration group PEGIDA, a German …
The alarming speed at which the group has gathered support has shocked many in Germany, with politicians left scrambling for a response.
Former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, of the centre-left Social Democrats, has called for a “rebellion of the decent” against the rising anti-immigration movement.
“That’s the kind of public reaction we need now,” he said.
At least 4,500 counter-protesters marching under the slogan “Dresden Nazi-free” turned out for Monday’s rally.
The management of the concert house, meanwhile, demonstrated its opposition to the PEGIDA rally by turning the building’s lights off.
Flags were hung outside the building reading: “Open your eyes”, “Open your hearts”, “Open doors” and “Human dignity is sacrosanct”, the first line of Germany’s constitution.
The counter-demonstration in southern city of Munich attracted larger numbers, with an estimated 12,000 people said to have taken part.
Germany is the world’s number two destination for migrants after the United States.
As the biggest economy in Europe it has seen an influx of immigrants in recent years.
It is also a popular destination for asylum seekers from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.
PEGIDA followers insist they are not Nazis, but are simply concerned about the “watering down” of their Christian-rooted culture and traditions.
Source : Sky News