Anti-Muslim group PEGIDA protests in Dresden, Germany

World Today

Police secure an area in downtown Dresden, Germany, Saturday Feb. 6, 2016. Thousands of people are taking part in protests against Islam and immigration in several European cities. Police in Dresden say they expect about 15,000 protesters to take part in a rally organized by the group Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West, Known by its German acronym PEGIDA, the group emerged in Dresden two years ago and has become a magnet for far-right and anti-immigrant sentiment. About 10,000 people were expected to take part in a counter-demonstration Saturday on the other side of the river Elbe, which divides the city. ( Hendrik Schmidt/dpa via AP)

Thousands of supporters of the anti-Islamic Pegida movement demonstrated in the eastern German city of Dresden on Saturday, carrying signs mostly directed against German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Anti-Muslim group PEGIDA protests in Dresden, Germany

Thousands of supporters of the anti-Islamic Pegida movement demonstrated in the eastern German city of Dresden on Saturday, carrying signs mostly directed against German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Police expected about 15,000 people at the rally, with 10,000 others in a counter-demonstration on the other side of the Elbe River, which divides the city.

The group, whose German acronym stands for Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the West, has become a magnet for far-right and anti-immigrant sentiment since it was founded in Dresden two years ago.

Thomas Walde, a Pegida demonstrator, said that he came to the march because he firmly believes “that things cannot go on like this.”

After a drop in attendance last spring, the group saw a rise in support from people angered by the unprecedented influx into Europe of refugees from Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

Another man, who refused to give his name, explained why so many people like him were joining for the first time Pegida’s demos.

Smaller Pegida-style protests were also taking place in France, Britain, Poland, the Czech Republic, Ireland, Denmark, Finland and Estonia.

Story by the Associated Press.