- Title: Left-wing stage protest against PEGIDA ahead of German Unification Day
- Date: 2nd October 2016
- Summary: PROTESTERS SURROUNDED BY PLACARDS
- Embargoed: 17th October 2016 18:11
- Keywords: German Unification Day demonstrators left-wing protest PEGIDA
- Location: DRESDEN, GERMANY
- City: DRESDEN, GERMANY
- Country: Germany
- Topics: Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA00252BAFK7
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Several hundred left-wing supporters marched in the streets of Dresden on Sunday (October 2), protesting against a demonstration planned by the right-wing PEGIDA on Monday (October 3), the German Unification Day.
Security has been tightened for the three days of celebration marking 26 years since German unification. Around 2,600 police officers are on duty to safeguard venues across the city.
According to Twitter feeds, the number of the protesters on Sunday was around 700. The police did not give any number so far, however, Reuters journalist spoke of a much lower number.
The start of the march was delayed by more than an hour and was stopped after a short distance by the police due to security issues. Apart from the usual pushing and shoving, the demonstration was largely peaceful.
On Saturday (October 1) night, unknown perpetrators set fire to three police cars, police said on Sunday. Last week, two improvised bombs exploded in the city last week, one at a mosque and one at an international conference centre.
Dresden was the cradle of the anti-Islam PEGIDA grassroots movement, whose weekly rallies attracted around 20,000 supporters at their height at the start of 2015.
The influx of almost a million migrants last year, mainly Muslims from the Middle East, Africa and Asia, has increased social tensions.
Far-right violence and attacks on migrants have risen dramatically, with riots and arson attacks on refugee shelters in the towns of Heidenau and Freital in the state of Saxony, of which Dresden is the capital.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who grew up in Communist East Germany, criticised the "shamefully high number" of xenophobic attacks in eastern Germany in an interview published on Saturday.
In her weekly podcast, Merkel also condemned misuse by far-right extremists of the phrase "Wir sind das Volk" (We are the people), a slogan originally used by East Germans in protests leading up to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
Merkel is due to visit Dresden on Monday for the official celebration along with German President Joachim Gauck, a former pastor in East Germany.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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