About 1,000 right-wing extremists have rallied outside Berlin’s main train station, protesting against Chancellor Angela Merkel’s welcoming stance to refugees.

Demonstrators held signs with slogans like ‘No Islam on German Soil’ and ‘Merkel Must Go,’ while waving German flags at the rally on Saturday afternoon in the capital.

About 1.1 million migrants crossed into Germany last year from the Middle East and North Africa raising concerns nationwide about how the country would cope with the influx.

Still, the rally drew only about a fifth of the numbers organisers had expected and several counter-protests were being held around Berlin in support of Merkel.

Even as demonstrators chanted their ‘we are the people’ mantra common to all recent far-right rallies, onlookers outside the police cordon shouted back ‘no you’re not.’

There weren’t any immediate reports of clashes between the two sides.

This week Merkel said it was important that people understood her immigration policies which have caused her personal ratings to plummet.

She said: ‘We have to ensure that Europe is a project that people understand,’ adding that a key message that has to hit home is that ‘it’s better with Europe than without Europe’.

German politicians from across the spectrum criticised the anti-immigration party on Monday after it declared Islam incompatible with the constitution.

Public backing for a German far-right party is at its most popular in its history–just days after it said Islam was incompatible with the country’s constitution.

Opinion polls have given Alternative for Germany (AfD) support of 15 per cent–gaining significant ground on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s main coalition partner, the centre-left Social Democrats.

Formed only three years ago on a eurosceptic platform, AfD is now Germany’s third strongest party, according to a recent survey.

Public backing for Germany’s far-right party AfD is at its most popular in its history–just days after it said Islam was incompatible with the country’s constitution.

The statistics were revealed as Merkel urged European leaders to protect the EU’s external borders or risk a ‘return to nationalism’.

She said today that border defence represents a ‘challenge for the future of Europe’ from ‘the Mediterranean to the North Pole’.

Merkel said earlier this week that the rise of the far-right in Germany was a phenomenon that ‘we have to deal with’.

‘We see that there are political forces with very negative rhetoric on Europe,’ she said, referring to AfD.

The AfD backed a manifesto pledge at a congress on Sunday to ban on minarets and the burqa, the full face and body-covering gown worn by some Muslim women.

It has no lawmakers in the federal parliament in Berlin but has members in half of Germany’s 16 regional state assemblies.

Merkel has said freedom of religion for all is guaranteed by Germany’s constitution and that Islam is a part of Germany.

Germany is home to nearly 4million Muslims, about 5 per cent of the total population. Community leaders have called on politicians to ensure that no religious community be disadvantaged and that Islam not be defined as a ‘foe’.

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