German anti-migrant march draws highest turnout, opponents rally

Demonstrators take part in a rally by a mounting right-wing populist movement on January 5, 2015 in Dresden, eastern GermanyA record 18,000 people turned out Monday for an anti-immigrant rally by a right-wing populist movement, ignoring a call by Chancellor Angela Merkel to snub such street protests. Thousands also joined counter-demonstrations in several cities against the “Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident”, or PEGIDA group, whose weekly protests have been condemned by church, business and political leaders. PEGIDA drew 18,000 people in the eastern city of Dresden, police said, up from the 17,500 that joined its last march there a few days before Christmas, in a movement that began with just a few hundred in October. Offshoot PEGIDA marches took place in the capital, Berlin, Stuttgart and Cologne but initially appeared to have been eclipsed by anti-PEGIDA supporters.

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