DRESDEN, Germany (AFP) – A record 25,000 people joined a march in Germany on Monday, claiming their anti-Islamic stance was vindicated by last week’s Paris attacks.
However, the impressive turnout was dwarfed by 100,000 counter-demonstrators calling for tolerance nationwide.
Chancellor Angela Merkel earlier stressed that “Islam belongs to Germany” and announced she would on Tuesday join a Muslim com-munity rally in Berlin against extremism, along with most of her cabinet ministers.
Undeterred, supporters of the self-styled Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident, or PEGIDA, gathered for their 12th rally since October in their birthplace of Dresden in former communist east Germany.
The marchers waved the German national flag and held up placards that read “Stop the flood of foreigners now” and “Stop multiculturalism. My homeland will stay German”.
Following last week’s deadly Islamist attacks in Paris, they held a minute’s silence and many wore black armbands.
Some carried French flags and signs that read “They can’t kill our freedom” and “Je suis Charlie” (I am Charlie), claiming solidarity with those killed in the attack on the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo.