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    Supporters of the anti-Islam movement Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West (PEGIDA) hold posters depicting German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a demonstration in Dresden, Germany

    'Fortress Europe' Day: Pegida Holds Anti-Islamization Marches Across Europe

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    Anti-Islamization Protests in Europe (44)
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    The Pegida anti-Islamization movement is holding rallies across several European countries on Saturday, its central rally taking place in the German city of Dresden, local media said Saturday.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Some 5,000 anti-immigration and anti-Islamization protesters have gathered in central Dresden after Pegida called for an international day of action to be held across European cities on Saturday, Deutschlandfunk public broadcaster reported on its website.

    Pegida's "Fortress Europe" day of action in Dresden saw various speakers from Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, Poland, the Netherlands, Slovakia and Estonia address the crowd. The speakers carried posters slamming Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel over her role in Europe's refugee crisis, Epoch Times Deutschland newspaper reported live from the rally.

    With a counter-rally by the "Solidarity without limits" pro-migration group held earlier, police maintained a heavy presence to prevent potential clashes.

    Rallies were also held in the Czech Republic, Poland, the Netherlands, France, Ireland and Britain. Over 100 people attended the local Pegida "silent march" in the British city of Birmingham, where a counter-rally was also held, ITV News reported.

    In France's Calais, which has been a hotspot during the ongoing refugee crisis, around 150 anti-migrant protesters clashed with police after defying of a ban on rallies, France's RFI radio said.

    A flag reads Islamists Not Welcome as mounted Dutch riot police separates pro and anti Pegida demonstrators during a rally against islamisation in Amsterdam, Netherlands
    © AP Photo / Peter Dejong
    A flag reads "Islamists Not Welcome" as mounted Dutch riot police separates pro and anti Pegida demonstrators during a rally against islamisation in Amsterdam, Netherlands

    In Prague, some 1,500 people gathered in opposition to refugee influx before clashing with pro-migration groups, forcing the police to intervene, reports said. Similar clashes took place in Amsterdam. In the Irish capital Dublin, a local Pegida branch was established during a rally. Anti-Pegida demonstrators also gathered, with the Irish RTE broadcaster reporting clashes with the gardai (Irish police).

    Pegida, an acronym for Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West, began organizing rallies in its home city of Dresden, in October 2014, attracting hundreds and later thousands of supporters.

    The far-right German movement gained support in many member states of the European Union amid rising anti-migrant sentiment as Europe faces its biggest refugee crisis since World War II.

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    Anti-Islamization Protests in Europe (44)
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    anti-Islamization, protests, Pegida, Dresden, Prague, France, Calais, Europe, Germany
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