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Politics

Thousands of PEGIDA supporters march in Dresden and other German cities

Members of the anti-Islamization PEGIDA movement have gathered Monday for the first time after the Paris attacks. Some of the protesters carried signs reading "Je suis Charlie."

The latest mass-rally of the self-styled "Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West" came just hours after the chancellor Angela Merkel said that "Islam has a place in Germany." German politicians previously called on Pegida to cancel their weekly march, saying the movement had no right to incite hatred against Muslims using the Paris attacks.

However, PEGIDA has said on its Facebook page that the killings at Charlie Hebdo in Paris confirmed its own views.

"The Islamists, which PEGIDA has been warning about for 12 weeks, showed France that they are not capable of democracy but rather look to violence and death as an answer," it said.

The supporters of the populist movement claim solidarity with victims of the Paris attacks, with some of them carrying signs that read "They can't kill our freedom" and "Je suis Charlie."

According to the police estimates, some 25,000 people gathered in an anti-immigration rally in Dresden.

Besides Dresden, which serves as a central city for the movement, marches are organized in several other cities, including Berlin, Munchen, and, for the first time, Leipzig.

At the same time, tens of thousands of citizens have came out to march against the right-wing movement.

"Don't be afraid" says a sign on a counterdemonstration in Leipzig.

Some 35,000 people gathered on a counterdemonstration on the streets of Dresden on Saturday, with people carrying signs saying "I am Charlie but not PEGIDA."

The number of people protesting against PEGIDA is also growing every week.

Monday's rallies come ahead of a planned vigil for tolerance and openness in Berlin,which is set for Tuesday. This vigil has been organized by Germany's Muslim leaders, with Chancellor Angela Merkel as well leaders of Germany's Jewish community expected to attend.

dj/rc (AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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