Anti-Immigrant Protesters Rally in Germany
A supporter of the PEGIDA movement, or Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West, holds a flag while supporters gather for a march in their first Berlin demonstration on Jan. 5.
Protesters marched in several German cities on Monday against higher levels of immigration and what they see as the growing influence of Islam, in defiance of an appeal from Chancellor Angela Merkel to spurn rallies she views as racist.
A PEGIDA demonstrator waves a German flag during a rally in Kassel, Germany, on Jan. 5.
More than one million people migrated to Germany in 2013, the highest influx in 17 years. Amid a rising tide of refugees from Syria and other trouble spots, officials and experts are worried that a lingering mistrust in society could be exploited by the far right.
Counter-demonstrators carry brooms as they protest against PEGIDA in the east German city of Dresden on Jan. 5.
PEGIDA demonstrations have become an almost weekly event in Dresden in recent months.
Activists protesting Germany’s immigration policy and the spread of Islam in the West march in Dresden on Jan. 5.
Some 18,000 people, the biggest number so far, turned out in Dresden on Monday but similar rallies in Berlin and the western city of Cologne were heavily outnumbered by counter-protesters who accuse PEGIDA of fanning racism and intolerance.
Turks wearing German football shirts demonstrate against the PEGIDA ("Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West") rally in Cologne on Jan. 5.
In Cologne, home to a large Muslim population, there were 10 times as many counter-demonstrators as PEGIDA protesters
A protester holds a banner reading "Stop Islam Terror" during a rally in Cologne on Jan. 5.
Germany has some of the world's most liberal asylum rules, partly due to its Nazi past. The number of asylum seekers arriving in Germany, many from the Middle East, jumped to around 200,000 last year -- four times as many as in 2012.
Supporters of the PEGIDA movement hold up their smartphones at the conclusion of another of their weekly gatherings in Dresden. While PEGIDA disavows xenophobia in its public statements, critics charge that the movement is becoming a conduit for right-wing activists.
Counter-demonstrators rally against the PEGIDA movement in Hamburg.
Cologne Cathedral, one of Germany's most famous landmarks, switched its lights off Jan. 5 to protest against the anti-Muslim rallies.