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Anti-Islamization protests

December 8, 2014

Right-wing groups have organized protests with less politically extreme citizens to voice their concern over what they see as the Islamization of Europe. Counterdemonstrations, however, are also expected.

PEGIDA Demonstrators gather in Dresden
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/A. Burgi

Anti-Islamization protests are set to take place for the second Monday in a row, this time in Dresden and in Düsseldorf.

The demonstration was organized by the umbrella group "Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West," or PEGIDA, a group led by previously apolitical Dresdeners who wish to distance themselves from right-wing extremists and neo-Nazis while protesting the perceived prevalence of Islamists and Salafists in Germany and the possible return of "Islamic State" (IS) fighters who hold European passports.

"Dear friends, dear fellow citizens, dear patriots! Monday is Pegida Day and today too we wish to show a peaceful sign. Bring your friends and neighbors and let us show the counter-demonstrators that we are not xenophobic," reads the call to action on PEDIGA's Facebook page.

The Dresden police were well prepared for the demonstrators and their opposition, cordoning off the area and setting up floodlights at the protest site so that no one could take advantage of the gathering darkness according to a report by German news outlet MDR.

Similar protests have been cropping up across Germany, beginning in Cologne on 26 October with a group of self-proclaimed 'hooligans' protesting Salafism, and continuing in Hanover, Kassel, and Chemnitz. The protesters represent a mix of right-wingers and citizens concerned with the rapid rise of IS or the possibility of refugee housing bringing crime and disorder into their neighborhoods.

Counter (anti-Nazi) demonstrations

The presence of counter-demonstrators has always remained significant, however. Last Monday a demonstration was held in Kassel, where the 80 anti-Islamization marchers were stopped by 500 people opposed to their message.

In Dresden on Monday, 1,000 counter-protestors had already gathered an hour before the scheduled PEGIDA event, set for 6:30 p.m. local time (1730 GMT).