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100,000 march against Pegida's record turnout

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A demonstrator outside the Berlin Chancellery. Photo: DPA
09:05 CET+01:00
Around 100,000 people took to German streets in counter-demonstrations against Pegida on Monday evening, after the anti-Islam movement were accused of trying to exploit last week's terror attacks in Paris to boost support.

In Dresden, the Pegida (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West) stronghold, only a few hundred people turned out to protest against the 25,000 police counted marching for the movement.

That was the largest turnout ever for Pegida, which last week numbered 18,000 on the Saxon capital's streets.

But Pegida demonstrators were massively outnumbered in other cities like Leipzig, where 30,000 counter-demonstrators faced around 5,000 from offshoot 'Legida'.

Meanwhile, 20,000 marched in Munich under the slogan "Munich is colourful" against a few hundred 'Bagida' supporters.

In Berlin, 4,000 people gathered in front of Angela Merkel's Chancellery to demonstrate against the few hundred members of 'Bärgida'.

The Bärgida marchers had to return to their starting point at the Brandenburg Gate shortly after setting off, as their route was blocked by another group of counter-demonstrators.

GALLERY: Images from pro- and anti-Pegida demonstrations around Germany

There a large crowd of counter-demonstrators gathered around a loudhailer van on the other side of the Berlin landmark heckled and booed them across police lines.

Clara Schrader, a school student from Berlin holding one end of a large banner, told The Local that she found the Pegida marchers "inhuman".

"With the latest news from France, Charlie Hebdo and everything, it's even more important to show that this just isn't OK", she said.

"Respect is the foundation of everything, of any peaceful way of ordering the world", Anne Weihel, an Evangelical Church activist dressed in a spectacular wizard costume, said.

"We're here to demonstrate against hatred and against the political exploitation of these events [in Paris]", Claire, a French student at the Free University of Berlin who was marching with two friends said. "It's the first time we've ever been on a march".

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"People should have freedom of movement, the right to go where they want", Namibian postgraduate student Kapenda said.

"Berlin is a place that welcomes everybody, Germany as a whole too. I don't think they're representative of most Germans, I think a lot of Germans are for the movement of people to Germany."

Other cities across Germany saw large counter-demonstrations, including Hamburg, where 4,000 people gathered.

And in Düsseldorf the City Hall extinguished its lights while 5,000 demonstrated against 'Dügida'.

Hanover, where 17,000 marched against 150 Pegida supporters, was one of the few cities to see arrests, with police reporting eight people taken into custody.

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