Far-right protests in Berlin

  • 08/05/2016
Far-right protests in Berlin (Reuters)
Far-right protests in Berlin (Reuters)

Almost 2000 far-right protesters have marched through Berlin to demand that Chancellor Angela Merkel step down for allowing more than a million migrants from the Middle East into Germany since last year.

Under the motto 'Merkel must go', demonstrators on Saturday (local time) gathered outside Berlin's central train station waving German flags and holding up posters reading "Islamists not welcome" and "Wir sind das Volk" ("We are the People"), a slogan coined by the protesters who ended communist rule in East Germany, adopted last year by the anti-Islam Pegida movement.

The rally drew around 1800 participants, police said, less than half the number organisers had expected, and the protesters were outnumbered by around 7500 left-wing counter-demonstrators who also marched through the capital.

A spokesman for the police said there had been scuffles when several left-wing demonstrators tried to break through barriers separating the two groups, and threw bottles at police.

Police used tear gas and made several arrests, the spokesman said, adding that the situation had quickly been brought under control.

While many Germans have welcomed the new arrivals, others say the country cannot cope with integrating them and risks losing its identity.

Support for the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany party has risen sharply, while arson attacks on refugee centres and sometimes violent protests have become increasingly common.