Some 3,000 hooligans and right-wingers have turned up in Hanover for a rally against radical Islamism. Police are attempting to prevent the demo from turning violent like a similar one did three weeks ago in Cologne.
Around 5,000 demonstrators had been expected to gather behind Hanover's central train station on Saturday, following a similar protest in Cologne three weeks ago that turned violent when police, having expected 1,500 protestors, were overwhelmed by the 4,800 who participated.
A DW correspondent at the Hanover station quoted police saying around 2600 participants had turned up two hours after the demonstration began, tweeting that counter-demonstrators, "a stone's throw away," had outnumbered the hooligans.
"There's no violence, and the scene is rather quiet, despite thousands of police, some mounted on horseback. There are also massive vehicles armed with water cannon." said DW's Alexander Drechsel.
Police had implemented numerous restrictions in preparation for Saturday's demonstration by the self-proclaimed "Hooligans against Salafists" (HoGeSa), an alliance of violent soccer fans and right-wingers who say they fear the rise of Islamism in Europe.
Here is an overview of the restrictions:
Each individual demonstrator will be subject to a body search by police. All alcoholic beverages will be confiscated. At the Cologne demonstration, protesters drank heavily and threw beer bottles at police.
All forms of pyrotechnics are prohibited. Three weeks ago, firecrackers were lit and thrown at police.
The court has banned a march through the streets following the gathering at the Hanover station. This is precisely when the Cologne demonstration turned violent - following an initially peaceful gathering, likewise at the central train station.
The police will end the demonstration at 16:00 local time. The HoGeSa alliance had requested the right to demonstrate until 17:00.
The music group Kategorie C, which is popular in the right-wing scene and appeared at the Cologne demonstration, will not be allowed to perform.
During the entire demonstration, a noise level limit of 90 decibels will be in place.
At the Cologne demonstration on October 26, police expected 1,500 demonstrators; almost 5,000 turned up
When asked how these restrictions would be enforced, the Hanover police press office said in a statement that demonstrators would be arrested if did not comply with the rules.
Three weeks ago, only a few dozen arrests were made despite the violence that resulted in 49 police injuries. Cologne police afterwards said that officers had been instructed to pursue a strategy of "de-escalation" when asked why so few arrests were made.
The Cologne demonstration, the third of its kind in Germany but the first to turn violent, sparked intense debate throughout the country about whether such demonstrations should be allowed to take place. It also led to questions of how cities can prepare for demonstrations that authorities deem likely to turn violent.
Police had attempted to ban the demonstration, entitled "Europe against the terror of Islamism," earlier this week. The alliance appealed to a district court, which overturned the ban, citing Article Eight of the German constitution, the freedom of assembly.