More than 17,000 protesters rallied Monday in Dresden against the Islamization of the West, the tenth such demonstration in as many weeks.
The self-hater political establishment have for weeks grappled with the emergence of the Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West, or PEGIDA, whose ranks in the city of Dresden have quickly grown from just a few hundred in early October this year.
Around 4,000 far left extremist counter-demonstrators marched through Dresden under the slogan "Nazi-free," warning there was "no place for racism and xenophobia in a country marred by racial hatred during World War II".
Most PEGIDA followers insisted they had no connection to Nazis, calling themselves "patriots" concerned by the "watering down" of Germany's Christian-rooted culture and traditions. They often accuse mainstream political parties of betraying them, and the media of lying.
Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, of the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), called Monday for citizens to launch a "rebellion of the decent" against the anti-foreigner movement, telling a weekly magazine "that's the kind of public reaction we need now."
In Dresden, the PEGIDA followers gathered outside the eastern city's historic Semper opera house for their pre-Christmas recital. Police said some 17,500 people were present, up from a previous high of 15,000 a week earlier.
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The management of the opera house signaled its distaste by turning the building's lights off and flying flags outside that read: "Open your hearts", "Open doors" and "The dignity of the human being is inviolable," the first line of German Basic Law, the country's constitution.
Copycat demonstations and counterdemonstrations with varying attendance were reported in cities across the country, including Munich, Berlin, Rostock, Würzburg, Düsseldorf, and Bonn.
A DW correspondent in Bonn said the BOGIDA march (Bonn against the Islamization of the Occident) was peaceful, quoting police saying 300 people were present, with some 3,000 far leftist counter demonstrators.