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Thousands of people in Germany took to the streets again to call for tolerance and racial equality.  (Photo: depone/flickr/cc)

Amid Rising Islamophobia In Germany, Thousands March Against Racism

At least 17,000 people across the country held protests to counter fascist organization Pegida

Sarah Lazare

Thousands of people marched through cities and towns across Germany on Monday calling for tolerance and racial equality in the face of the country's rising Islamophobic demonstrations that fall under the banner of the far-right, extremist organization Pegida.

At least 17,000 people took part in the anti-racist mobilizations, including more than 10,000 people in Munich, 6,000 in Magdeburg, and many more at rallies in Wuerzburg, Nuremberg, Berlin, and Duesseldorf, according to estimates from AFP.

The showing, however, was smaller than last week's approximately 100,000 anti-racist marchers across Germany.

Citing alleged terror threats, police banned a Pegida march, initially slated to take place on Monday in the eastern German city of Dresden. Still, several hundred people held Pegida marches in German cities, according to Deutsche Welle.

Pegida, which stands for "Patriotic Europeans Against Islamization of the West," was founded on Facebook in October and has ties to neo-Nazi forces. While its public marches have been consistently far outnumbered nationwide by counter-demonstrations, Pegida's ranks appear to be growing amid Europe-wide Islamophobic backlash in the wake of the Paris attacks.

Last week Dresden saw its largest Pegida protest yet at 25,000 people.

The murder last week of Dresden-based Eritrean man Khaled Idris Bahray, still under investigation, raised concerns of race and ethnicity based attacks. Bahray's residence was vandalized with the image of a Swastika just three days before his murder, accompanied by the text, "We'll get you all."

Pegida rallies, furthermore, appear to be crossing borders. In Denmark, a group of approximately 200 people held a rally in central Copenhagen. However, an anti-Pegida rally attracted approximately 350 protesters.

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