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AfD, PEGIDA hold side-by-side events in Dresden

PEGIDA had long called for a joint demonstration with Alternative for Germany (AfD) members. This is the first time the two groups stood together in public.

Members of the Saxony branch of the  Alternative for Germany (AfD) party and PEGIDA (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West), two German groups against mass immigration from Syria and other nations into Germany, held separate-but-joint demonstrations in Dresden on Monday, according to local media outlets.

The demonstrations took place in front of the Frauenkirche (Women's Church), with two separate stages in front of more than 2,000 attendees, according to the Durchgezählt research group. Dresden police have not released official attendance figures. This is the first time the AfD party and PEGIDA group were seen at the same public demonstration.

"We have written history today," said Mattias Scholz, chairman of the Young Alternative (JA) in Dresden. "We are separated by the demonstration barrier today, but we are united in the cause."

There was a group of between 120 and 170 counter-protesters, according to local reports.

PEGIDA leader Lutz Bachmann had long wanted to hold a demonstration alongside the AfD. Bachmann was not present at Monday's demonstrations, however.

Egbert Emer, a member of a local AfD chapter, said there would be more events with the AfD and PEGIDA next Monday.

The AfD and PEGIDA are against what they consider to be the "Islamisation" of Europe with the influx of migrants, predominately from Syria. More than 1 million immigrants have arrived in Germany since 2015.

kbd/kl (dpa, TAG24, Radio Dresden)

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