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Right-wing PEGIDA rally draws thousands in Dresden, takes aim at Merkel

A rally held by anti-migrant group PEGIDA has drawn thousands to the German city of Dresden. As concern over the refugee crisis has grown, so has the group's popularity.

The anti-migrant group took aim on Monday at German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a large rally in Dresden, the second one it has held in a week.

Although authorities declined to give an official number, reporters at the scene estimated that anywhere from 7,000 to 9,000 people were in attendance.

As has become standard practice, PEGIDA organizers used the event to lash out at Merkel, with Tatjana Festerling, the group's leader, calling the chancellor "the most dangerous woman in Europe," according to the AFP news agency.

Another speaker at the rally said Merkel's policy of welcoming refugees into Germany was turning the country into a "jungle camp."

Inciting hatred

Last Monday, PEGIDA - the German acronym for "Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West" - held another rally that drew roughly 9,000 attendees. This most recent event, however, also attracted around 200 counter-demonstrators opposed to the group's xenophobic views.

Founded by Lutz Bachmann in Dresden, PEGIDA burst onto the scene about a year ago. The group lost ground for a while after selfies of Bachmann imitating Hitler emerged online, but has regained some of its popularity amid rising concerns over the refugee crisis in Europe.

Bachmann was recently charged by German authorities for inciting hatred.

blc/jr (AP, epd, AFP, dpa)

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