The Saxony state interior minister, Markus Ulbig, said: “This is not a good day for Saxony. With Geert Wilders they have invited a person who has hate inside him, who is divisive.”
World Bulletin / News Desk
Organizers of the PEGIDA demonstration were expecting more than 30,000 supporters to be present at an anti-immigration rally on Monday in Dresden. Instead, only a little more than 7,000 people made to the protest march, despite Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders holding a speech and pledging loyalty to the movement.
Speaking in German, Wilders praised PEGIDA supporters, calling them "heroes," because they defended Western culture. Wilders, who is openly against Islam, said the religion did not belong to Germany.
He also insisted that “we don’t hate Muslims, but they have to integrate” and demanded the reintroduction of border controls within the European Union.
More than 2,000 anti-fascist counter-demonstrators had rallied in the afternoon, away from the Pegida protest site which was blocked off by police.
The Dutch politician spoke for 25 minutes before leaving the venue for the airport.
Earlier, leaders belonging to the Social Democrats (SPD), the leftist party Die Linke and the Greens, including students and members of foreigners' councils, organized protest marches in Dresden calling for "Diversity instead of narrow-mindedness."
Earlier on Monday, activists of the anti-Nazi union Dresden Nazifrei had requested permission to hold a rally in the city. Judges argued the Dresden Nazifrei rally was intended to hinder PEGIDA protesters.
The German integration commissioner, Aydan Ozoguz, had warned citizens against attending the Pegida event, saying that by inviting Wilders the group had shown its true extremist colours.