Hundreds join PEGIDA rally in Dresden to protest Berlin’s migrant policy

© Lutz Bachmann
Hundreds of people have taken to the streets of the German city of Dresden to participate in an anti-immigration and anti-Islamism rally organized by the Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West (PEGIDA) movement.

Demonstrators marched through the city and gathered at the Neumarkt square in the Old Town.

The rally began at 18:30 (local time) (17:30 GMT). According to the witnesses, about 2300-2900 people joined the rally.

Participants were protesting against German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open door refugee policy and what they called the “Islamization of Europe.” They also voiced discontent with the influx of Muslim migrants and refugees.

Speakers at the rally touched on a broad spectrum of topics ranging from refugee policy to recent terrorist attacks and violent incidents in Germany, involving refugees and people of migrant origin.

“Islamist terror has come to western Germany, particularly to Bavaria,” one of the speakers said, adding that Merkel partly bears responsibility for the attacks that occurred in Germany in the past weeks.

Some speakers also drew particular attention to the massive demonstration in support of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that was held in Cologne on Sunday. PEGIDA speakers sharply criticized the pro-Erdogan rally and denounced the Turkish president’s supporters in Germany as “the fifth column.”

“All those, who rallied in support of Erdogan, are Muslim fundamentalists and enemies of democracy, even when they claim they are rallying for democracy,” one of the speakers told the rally, suggesting that Erdogan’s supporters should return to Turkey.

They also stressed that such a massive demonstration in support of “a dictator that suppresses freedom of speech” is “a source of concern.”

The speakers also demanded that the German government abandon its open door refugee policy and send all Muslim migrants and refugees out of Europe. “Merkel must be stopped!” one speaker said.

At the same time, speakers repeatedly tried to distance themselves from any forms of Nazism and condemned the Nazis.

Protesters were waving national German flags and were holding banners and placards that read “No more solidarity – it is Bullsh*t!”, “Kick throat cutting terrorists and Islamist crowd out of Germany!” and “No mosques!” They also were chanting, “we are the people!” and “Merkel must go!” Some demonstrators were wearing t-shirts bearing the slogan “Rapefugees are not welcome!”

A slogan “Stop the Islamization of Europe!” was written on the main stage of the rally.

The demonstration was peaceful and no incidents have been reported. PEGIDA reportedly plans to hold similar rallies in Dresden every Monday.

On July 19, PEGIDA announced the establishment of a new political party called the Popular Party for Freedom and Direct Democracy (FDDV). Lutz Bachmann, the founder and the leader of the movement said at that time that the new party will support another right-wing party, Alternative for Germany (AfD), in the next elections and "shall only field candidates in a limited number of constituencies.”

READ MORE: Pegida launches political party amid impending ban over extremism

PEGIDA emerged in Dresden in late 2014. The movement has gained popularity in Germany and overseas, holding rallies against ‘Islamization’, refugee and Angela Merkel’s open-door migrant policy. At its peak, Pegida meetings attracted some 25,000 supporters.