Source: Huffingtons Post
DRESDEN, Germany (Reuters) – The German anti-Islam movement PEGIDA staged its biggest rally in months on Monday, sparked into fresh life on its first anniversary by anger at the government’s decision to take in hundreds of thousands of migrants from the Middle East.
PEGIDA, or Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West, almost fizzled out earlier this year when its leader resigned after a photo was published of him posing as Hitler.
But it has swelled again as Germany implements Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to accept a tide of refugees that could exceed a million this year, as she argues that Germany can not only cope but, with its aging population, will benefit in the long term.
Police declined to estimate the number of protesters but media put it at 15-20,000, somewhat below a peak of around 25,000 in January. Around 14,000 counter-demonstrators urged people to welcome refugees rather than whip up opposition.
PEGIDA supporters waved the national flag and carried posters bearing slogans such as “Hell comes with fake refugees” and “Every people should have its country, not every people a piece of Germany”.
Gathering outside Dresden’s historic opera house, the Semperoper, PEGIDA supporters chanted “Deport! Deport!” and “Merkel must go!”.
“We’re just normal people who are scared of what’s coming,” said 37-year-old Patrick, a car mechanic. “As a German citizen who pays taxes, you feel like you’re being taken for a ride.”