Dresden (Germany), Dec 15: More than 10,000 people demonstrated today in eastern Germany against "criminal asylum seekers" and the "Islamisation" of the country, in the latest show of strength of a growing far-right populist movement, according to police.
The mass demonstration in the eastern city of Dresden was the ninth so-called "Monday demonstration" organised by the group "Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident" or PEGIDA.
Around 1,200 police, most in riot gear, were on hand to watch over the vocal but peaceful rally. "We are the people," chanted the demonstrators, co-opting the phrase famously shouted a quarter-century ago by East German pro-democracy protesters here in the lead-up to the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Dominated by ordinary citizens but supported by neo-Nazis and hard-right football hooligans, PEGIDA has sparked nationwide soul-searching as it has grown and spawned half a dozen clone movements across Germany. Chancellor Angela Merkel earlier today condemned the protests and warned Germans not to be "exploited" by extremists, saying the right to demonstrate did not extend to "rabble-rousing and defamation" against foreigners.