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German Justice Minister Slams Ban on Pegida March Amid Terror Threat

© REUTERS / Hannibal HanschkeParticipants hold German national flags during a demonstration organised by anti-immigration group PEGIDA outside Semperoper opera house in Dresden December 22, 2014
Participants hold German national flags during a demonstration organised by anti-immigration group PEGIDA  outside Semperoper opera house in Dresden December 22, 2014 - Sputnik International
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German Justice Minister Heiko Maas commented on the recent cancellation of PEGIDA anti-Islamization march, saying that the terrorist threat should not oppress the freedom of expression.

Participants take part in a demonstration called by anti-immigration group PEGIDA, a German abbreviation for Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West, in Dresden January 5, 2015. Several thousand opponents of Germany's policy towards asylum seekers and Islam are expected to attend the protest in the eastern German town on Monday. - Sputnik International
Pegida Plans to Hold Next Rally Despite Islamic Terrorist Threats
MOSCOW, January 19 (Sputnik) — The threat of terrorist attacks should not result in restrictions on freedom of expression and the right to hold demonstrations, German Justice Minister Heiko Maas said Monday.

"[The] terrorist threat should not lead to oppression of the freedom of expression, whether we like it or not," Maas was quoted as saying by the DPA news agency.

Commenting on the demonstrations staged by the anti-Islamization movement Pegida across Germany, Maas said that "as long as Pegida does not violate our laws, it is guaranteed the freedom of speech," as quoted by DPA.

On Sunday, Dresden police banned a Pegida (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West) demonstration, planned for Monday, saying they had received information about a direct threat to Pegida members.

Protesters take part in an anti-racism demonstration against the anti-immigration movement Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West (PEGIDA) in Duesseldorf, January 12, 2015 - Sputnik International
German Anti-Islamization Rally in Leipzig Postponed Until Wednesday
Later that day, Pegida informed its supporters that the 13th anti-Islamization march was canceled due to security concerns.

On Monday, however, the movement's spokesperson, Kathrin Oertel said the rallies would continue in Dresden, despite warnings of a terrorist threat.

Pegida stands for "Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West". It has organized a number of protests in Germany against what it sees as the increased influence of Islam on Western culture.

Last Monday's Pegida rally attracted about 25,000 participants in Dresden, following a recent series of deadly attacks in France carried out by Islamist gunmen.

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