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.
"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."