German Protesters Warn Against 'Invasion' of Muslims

Tensions over the refugee crisis in Germany have been rising this week with major protests against Chancellor Angela Merkel's vow to take in at least 800,000 refugees from Syria and the Middle East. Close to 9,000 members of the anti-migrant PEGIDA movement marched in Dresden earlier this week, while Merkel was mocked by a German TV channel that depicted her wearing an Islamic headscarf.

(Photo: Reuters/Leonhard Foeger)Migrants run toward the Austrian border from Hegyeshalom, Hungary, October 6, 2015. Austria and Germany have committed to backing Greek efforts to secure more EU funds to cope with the influx and to boost staff on the ground. Many of the almost 400,000 migrants who have arrived in Greece this year have later passed through Austria on their way to Germany.
(Photo: ARD video screencap)German TV channel ARD has sparked outrage after using this mocked-up image of Angela Merkel wearing an Islamic headscarf against a backdrop of the Reichstag surrounded by minarets during a debate on migration, in this image captured October 2015.
(Photo: Reuters/Fabrizio Bensch)Migrants queue in the compound outside the Berlin Office of Health and Social Affairs (LAGESO) as they wait to register in Berlin, Germany, October 7, 2015. German authorities are struggling to cope with the roughly 10,000 refugees arriving every day, many fleeing conflict in the Middle East. The government expects 800,000 or more people to arrive this year and media say it could be up to 1.5 million.
(Photo: Reuters/Dominic Ebenbichler)Police directs migrants at a train station near the border with Austria in Freilassing, Germany, September 15, 2015. A total of 4,537 asylum seekers reached Germany by train on Monday despite the imposition of new controls at the border with Austria, the federal police said on Tuesday. The arrivals brought the number of asylum seekers who have entered Germany by train since the start of the month to 91,823, a police spokeswoman in Potsdam said.
(Photo: Reuters/Zohra Bensemra)Ihab, 30 (C), a Syrian migrant from Deir al-Zor, cries as he and his family are welcomed by his relatives upon their arrival at the railway station in Lubeck, Germany, September 18, 2015.
(Photo: Reuters/Kai Pfaffenbach)A migrant prays at an temporary shelter in a sports hall in Hanau, Germany, September 29, 2015. When the flood of Middle Eastern refugees arriving in Europe finally ebbs and asylum-seekers settle down in their new homes, Germany could unexpectedly find itself housing the continent's largest Muslim minority.
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"I am convinced that Mrs.Merkel's politics are against national interests. I'm very disturbed about that. It's almost treason. She has forgotten the oath she gave when she was sworn in," said PEGIDA supporter Max Haupt, according to EuroNews.

EarActiv Germany reported that the marches, organized by the "Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the Occident" group drew 9,000 participants, while Deutsche Welle added that a previous march last week gathered together another 7,500.

While many Germans have been welcoming of the hundreds of thousands of refugees that are making their way across Europe, fleeing terrorism and civil war in Iraq and Syria, PEGIDA rallies have continued to attract thousands of protesters who see the arrival of the refugees as dangerous for the nation.

Some signs at the rally read: "Merkel guilty of ethnocide against her own people," as well as "peace with Russia, get out of NATO."

Lutz Bachmann, PEGIDA's founder, told supporters: " [The asylum] won't stop with 1.5 or 2 million" and warned that "it is an impossible task to integrate these people."

There have also been anti-PEGIDA counter demonstrations in which people have accused the group of being xenophobic.

"I know about the situation of refugees," said one man. "I know why they are here. I know a few. I'd also flee the country if a war broke out here. That is why I can't understand this intolerance. We're sitting on thrones here."

In the month of September alone Germany is said to have received 163,772 asylum seekers, with close to half of them coming from Syria.

ARD television has meanwhile stirred controversy for using a fake image of Merkel wearing an Islamic headscarf, criticizing her for the open-door policy for asylum seekers. MailOnline said that the image has stirred great controversy and a flurry of complaints, accusing the channel of provoking anti-Muslim sentiment.

ARD defended the image, however, and said in a statement:

"We consider this satirical form of representation to be in keeping with our journalistic values. We reject any insinuation that we would operate Islamophobic propaganda."

Merkel earlier told ARD that there is no practical way to place a limit on coming refugees.

"You cannot just close the borders," the German leader said.

"There is no sense in my promising something that I cannot deliver," she continued. "We will manage. I am quite strongly convinced of that."