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German president urges compassion, help for refugees

Supporters of the PEGIDA movement take part in a rally in Dresden on December 15, 2014Germany’s president appealed in a Christmas message for compassion and openness towards refugees coming to the country, which is grappling with a growing anti-Islam movement amid a debate about immigration. President Joachim Gauck, a former dissident Lutheran pastor in ex-East Germany, said in the speech that he saw a great readiness by many to accept those seeking refuge in Germany. Germany, which has fared better economically than most of its eurozone partners, has become the continent’s top destination for asylum seekers and expects a further increase next year. “That we react with empathy to the plight around us, that most of us don’t follow those who want to seal off Germany — that is for me a truly encouraging experience of this year,” he said, according to a copy of the speech to be broadcast Thursday.

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