BERLIN: More than 17,000 anti-racism demonstrators took to the streets in several German cities on Monday to voice opposition to the PEGIDA anti-Islamic movement, whose own weekly rally was cancelled over a terrorism threat.
The counter-protests drew smaller crowds than last week, when some 100,000 people called for tolerance nationwide.
In Munich, where anti-PEGIDA mobilisation has been strong for several weeks, around 10,000 people — half the number of protesters as the week before — gathered, according to police.
Around a thousand people demonstrated in the Bavarian cities of Wuerzburg and Nuremberg, the German news agency DPA reported. Protests were also organised in Berlin and Duesseldorf, and around 6,000 people were on the streets in Magdeburg.
On Monday, PEGIDA — “Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident” — vowed it would rally again next week after a march was cancelled over a terrorism threat.
Police in Dresden, where the PEGIDA marches began in October, had banned all public open-air gatherings within city limits for Monday, citing the “concrete threat” of an assassination attempt against the group’s leaders.
The marches — which have voiced anger against Islam and “criminal asylum seekers” — began with several hundred supporters and have since steadily grown.
They drew a record 25,000 people last week, in the wake of the attacks by radical Islamists in Paris in which 17 people were killed. The same day saw some 100,000 Germans march in counter demonstrations.