German anti-Islam group PEGIDA stages anniversary rally in Dresden
Germany’s anti-Islam PEGIDA movement drew thousands of supporters to Dresden city center on Sunday to celebrate its second anniversary, though numbers were subdued compared with crowds of about 25,000 at rallies in the city in early 2015.
PEGIDA, which stands for Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West, made its mark on the political agenda with its first anti-Islam march in the eastern German city in October 2014 and then spread to other cities.
About 900,000 migrants, mostly Muslims, entered Germany in 2015, prompting public concern over the country’s ability to cope with the influx. More than 200,000 migrants have arrived this year.
Police did not give any estimate on the number of rally participants but issued a statement saying they had deployed about 1,700 officers in Dresden and that the demonstrations had passed peacefully, though criminal proceedings were instigated over bodily harm in one case.
Crowd-counting group Durchgezaehlt, run by a statistician at Leipzig University, said on Twitter that between 6,500 and 8,500 people attended Sunday’s rally.