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Record numbers of anti-PEGIDA protesters in Germany

January 13, 2015

Germany has seen another Monday evening of protest marches. While Dresden drew more anti-Islamization protesters to the streets than ever before, elsewhere, counter-demonstrators had the upper hand.

Deutschland Demo der Anti-Islam-Bewegung Pegida in Dresden
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/A. Burgi

Police in the eastern German city of Dresden said on Monday evening that a total of 25,000 had turned out to the latest demonstration organized by PEGIDA, or "Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West." That's significantly up from last Monday's demonstration, which drew around 18,000 people.

PEGIDA's opponents, who accuse its supporters of right-wing extremism, brought tens of thousands of people out onto the streets on Monday evening.

PEGIDA outnumbered elsewhere

PEGIDA still had the far bigger demonstration in Dresden, with around 7,000 taking part in a counter demonstration, but in another major eastern German city, Leipzig, the tables were turned. Leipzig municipal officials estimated that 30,000 people had turned out to a demonstration to counter what would be the first PEGIDA protest, dubbed LEGIDA, in Leipzig, which drew less than 5,000.

In the capital, Berlin, around 4,000 people are reported to have taken to the streets to demonstrate against the local chapter of Pegida, which only managed to mobilize around 400.

In the southern city of Munich, meanwhile, a broad alliance of political parties and trade unions mobilized around 20,000 people for a demonstration in favor of racial and religious tolerance.

"We are against all forms of racism, anti-Semitism and right-wing violence," Munich's mayor, Dieter Reiter told the demonstrators.

Thousands of anti-PEGIDA demonstrators also took to the streets of a number of other German cities on Monday evening, including Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Hanover, and Saarbrücken, while only a few hundred turned out in support of PEGIDA. Nationwide, the DPA news agency put the total number of anti-PEGIDA demonstrators at close to 100,000.

Controversial armbands

Some of the PEGIDA supporters wore black armbands in honor of the 17 victims of last week's terrorist attacks in Paris, which killed 17 people at the offices of a French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket.

This was also criticized by its opponents, with both Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere and Justice Minister Heiko Maas accusing PEGIDA of exploiting the attacks for their own ends.

pfd/bk (AFP; dpa, Reuters)