The reactions around the globe to the terror attacks in Paris last week have ranged from millions taking to the streets in France to show solidarity with the victims in the Charlie Hebdo shootings to Hollywood stars proclaiming "Je Suis Charlie" at Sunday night's Golden Globes. They've also, unfortunately, included some attacks on mosques, threats and shootings against France's Muslim community.
In Germany, however, more than 25,000 people took the streets on Monday for the latest in a string of what some are calling anti-immigrant protests inspired by the perceived threat posed by Islam in the country, according to the New York Times. It was just the latest in a series of such rallies in the city of Dresden that has put the nation's large immigrant population on edge and raised questions about civility and peaceful coexistence.
But, even as tens of thousands gathered in Dresden on Monday as part of the anti-immigration movement known as Pegida (a German acronym for Patriotic Europeans Against Islamization of the West), there were also counter demonstrations calling for tolerance, such as one in Leipzig that drew more than 30,000.
There were similar counter actions elsewhere in the country, including one at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate on Tuesday night at which Chancellor Angela Merkel and other members of her government gathered under the banner of "Stand Together" to "send a strong signal about the peaceful coexistence of various religions in Germany."
The rally, attended by some 4,000, was intended to show tolerance and support and featured an imam reciting verses from the Koran and politicians laying a wreath made out of colored pens (a symbol of the Hebdo tragedy) at the French embassy as the Gate was lit in the colors of the French flag. According to The Guardian, German president Joachim Gauck told the crowd, "We will not give you our fear. Your hate is our incentive," ending with the phrase "Wir Alle sind Deutschland" ("all of us are Germany").
Pegida supporters have called for an end to multiculturalism and a tightening of immigration rules, saying that the Paris attacks have strengthened their fears about Islam. Pegida spokesman Udo Ulfkotte told RT that the movement's aim is to prevent the mixing of Christian and Islamic cultures.
"We want to keep our culture, to keep our traditions, to keep our Christian values," Ulfkotte said. "We respect Islam here,” he added, but said that he was afraid that Islamic Sharia law might creep into German courts. "We don't want to spread hate. What we want to tell the people out there is please accept this and open your eyes, [Islam] is not a peaceful religion."