Two police injured as anti-Islam rallies reignite

Two police injured as anti-Islam rallies reignite
Anti-Islam Pegida supporters march in Dresden. Photo: DPA.
A demonstration by the Leipzig faction of anti-Islam group Pegida turned violent on Monday, while Dresden saw a sharp increase in Pegida marchers for the first time in months - both bolstered by an increase in refugees in the country.

An estimated 500 people marched for Legida in Leipzig on Monday in a protest that soon devolved into violent clashes, injuring two officers as Legida demonstrators started hurling objects like bottles and fireworks at police.

Another 1,000 counter-protesters also showed up to demonstrate against Legida. Police said that counter-protesters also breached the peace, turning over police barricades and resisting police.

Some of the Legida marchers were masked while others appeared to be violent “football clientele”, a police spokesman said, though he did not call them hooligans.

Police used batons, tear gas and even set up a water cannon against protesters. 

Pegida supporters in Dresden – where the anti-Islam movement began – also formed a protest on Monday, drawing more than 5,000 people for the first time in months.

Co-founder and leader Lutz Bachmann told supporters at the demonstration that he wanted to establish Pegida as an official political party to run in local, state and federal elections. 

A supporter of the Pegida movement, Tatjana Festerling, was a candidate in the Dresden mayoral election earlier this year before she announced her withdrawal after garnering 9.6 percent of the votes.

Bachmann had previously stepped down as leader after a photo surfaced of him styled as Adolf Hitler, but he was later reinstated.

Pegida – “Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West” – was founded last year, but support for the group has waned since mass demonstrations at the beginning of the year drew in up to 25,000 people.