Thousands March in Anti-Islam Pegida Rallies Across Europe

AFP, February 6, 2016

A march by Germany’s anti-Islamic organisation Pegida drew thousands to the eastern city of Dresden on Saturday with rallies in support of the movement also held in a string of other European cities.

In Prague, about 5,000 people turned out for a Pegida-inspired march organised by two far-Right groups, while in Amsterdam mounted police charged pro- and anti-Pegida groups and arrested at least a dozen people.

Another rally in the northern French port of Calais, home to the infamous “Jungle” refugee camp for migrants seeking passage across the Channel to Britain, brought about 20 arrests, local authorities said.

Police there responded with tear gas after scuffles broke out.

The Pegida group had called for the Saturday rallies, urging supporters to march under the anti-migrant banner of “Fortress Europe”.

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Several thousand Pegida supporters turned up in Dresden under clear blue skies to march along the banks of the River Elbe, which flows through the city, to protest against mass immigration and the “Islamisation” of Europe.

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Many held aloft banners criticising Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, who is in the firing line for her liberal stance towards refugees after Germany took in more than a million migrants last year. About 2,000 people–fewer than the 10,000 expected by police–meanwhile joined an anti-Pegida rally at which participants urged tolerance towards migrants.

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In Prague, an AFP journalist put the crowd at around 5,000 although police did not give an official estimate of the demo or its counter-rally. Police arrested four people.

In Dublin, scuffles broke out between people who had gathered to protest against the launch of Pegida in Ireland, and those who attended the launch of the group.

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