PEGIDA rallies throughout Germany

BERLIN – Hundreds of protestors joined Monday rallies organized by the anti-Islam movement PEGIDA in cities throughout Germany.

More than 500 PEGIDA sympathizers marched in Berlin on Monday, demanding restrictions on what they described as uncontrolled immigration and the “Islamization” of Germany.

They held banners and German flags and chanted such slogans as "We are the people" and “Lying press.”

Meanwhile, more than 1100 protestors held a counter-demonstration in Berlin. Police took heavy security measures to prevent any clashes between them.

PEGIDA associated groups also rallied in Frankfurt, Duisburg and Munich on Monday, albeit in fewer numbers.

Around 800 PEGIDA followers rallied in Munich, 400 in Duisburg, and 100 followers in Frankfurt.

PEGIDA held its largest rally on Jan 12, in the aftermath of the terrorist attack on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris that killed 12 people. More than 25,000 protestors had attended the rally.

On Monday, a music festival organized in Dresden to protest PEGIDA and promote cultural diversity and tolerance drew more than 35,000 people.  

PEGIDA’s stronghold Dresden is the capital of the state of Saxony, which was part of the former Eastern Germany between 1949 and 1989.

High level of unemployment and poverty remain a serious problem in the state, 25 years after the unification of Western Germany and Eastern Germany.

Germany is home to four million Muslims and 98 percent of them live in Western Germany. In Saxony, where anti-Islam movements drew strong support, only 0.7 percent of the population is Muslim.

A recent study by the Bertelsmann Foundation has revealed that 57 percent of Germany’s non-Muslims perceive Islam as a threat -- a 4 percent increase since 2012.

Copyright © 2015 Anadolu Agency