Thousands of people in the northern German port city of Hamburg have rallied in support of refugees. But another even larger demonstration was marred by violent clashes between some leftist protesters and police.
Up to 7,500 people gathered in the square in front of the town hall in Hamburg on Saturday for the anti-racism demonstration, police said.
A police spokeswoman said the rally was "absolutely peaceful." Participants called for cultural diversity, with City Mayor Olaf Scholz telling the crowd that Hamburg was "showing its true colors" by protesting against racism - an echo of the rally's motto: "Hamburg shows its colors."
Scholz also personally thanked those who have helped refugees coming to Germany, saying that they had made the country "a land of hope again for many people."
At the same time, a counter-demonstration that was initially organized in response to a later banned right-wing demonstration drew up to 14,000 people to the inner city.
Leftist demonstrators clashed with police at the main railway station, breaking windows, attacking police with pepper spray, and forcing the station's temporary closure, officials said.
Some of the demonstrators threw stones at a train to the nearby city of Bremen after they were unable to board it, following reports that the right-wingers were shifting their rally there.
Police in Bremen have, however, forbidden the right-wing demonstration as well.
Both London and Copenhagen also saw large demonstrations in favor of helping refugees.
Urged to help more
In the Danish capital, some 30,000 people rallied in support of Denmark taking in thousands of refugees, after the country said on Friday that it had already accepted its fair share of asylum seekers.
Thousands of Britons also gathered in London to urge their government to step up its efforts to aid Syrian refugees, according to AFP news agency.
The rallies come as tens of thousands of refugees, mostly from Africa and the Middle East, have been arriving in Germany over the past week.
Although surveys show that most Germans are prepared to welcome the refugees, there have been a number of arson attacks on refugee shelters throughout the country in the past few months, and conservative politicians have voiced their concern at the influx.
tj/rc (AFP, Reuters, dpa)