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Germans Rally Against the Group That Says It's Fighting the 'Islamization' of Europe

People write messages on the Avaaz “Wall of Love” reading "with you - wall of boundless friendship" in front of the famous Church of Our Lady, on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015 in Dresden, Saxony, eastern Germany. Thousands of people are coming together to add their names to a giant wall of messages expressing hope and unity during a massive anti-Pegida gathering in the city center of Dresden. (Gero Breloer/AP Images for AVAAZ)\n

BERLIN (AP) — Tens of thousands of people are protesting in the eastern German city of Dresden against racism and for an open society.

Tens of thousands participate in a demonstration against racism and for an open society in Dresden, eastern Germany, Saturday Jan. 10, 2015. .The protests Saturday came in reaction to weekly anti-Islamic demonstrations that have been taking place for months in Dresden. The weekly rallies are organized by a group calling itself Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West, or PEGIDA. Those rallies have been attended by up to 18,000 people, but Saturday’s counter protests mobilized more than twice the crowds around 35,000 protesters. Sign reads: Help Refugees. (AP Photo/dpa, Arno Burgi)

The protests Saturday came in reaction to weekly anti-Islamic demonstrations that have been taking place for months in Dresden.

In this Jan. 5, 2015 file photo a participant of a rally called 'Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West' (PEGIDA) holds a cross besides a German flag in front of the city hall tower during a demonstration in Dresden, Germany. The deadly shootings in Paris are prompting concerns in Europe that anti-Islamist movements and far-right parties may be able to harness the reaction to gain broader support, as many trumpeted a message of “I told you so” the day after the slaughter. A post condemning the attack on the Facebook page used by organizers of the growing weekly rallies in Dresden against the perceived “Islamization” of Europe quickly generated more than 10,000 “likes” and 1,500 comments. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer)

In this Dec. 15, 2014 file photo thousands of participants of a rally called 'Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West' (PEGIDA) gather in Dresden, eastern Germany. The words at the banner read: 'Nonviolent and united against faith wars in Germany - Pegida.' (AP Photo/Jens Meyer)

The weekly rallies are organized by a group calling itself Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West, or Pegida. Those rallies have been attended by up to 18,000 people, but Saturday's counter protests mobilized more than twice the crowds — around 35,000 protesters.

Tens of thousands participate in a demonstration against racism and for an open society in Dresden, eastern Germany, Saturday Jan. 10, 2015. The protests Saturday came in reaction to weekly anti-Islamic demonstrations that have been taking place for months in Dresden. The weekly rallies are organized by a group calling itself Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West, or PEGIDA. Those rallies have been attended by up to 18,000 people, but Saturday’s counter protests mobilized more than twice the crowds around 35,000 protesters. (AP Photo/dpa, Arno Burgi)

Mayor of Dresden, Helma Orosz speaks during a demonstration against racism and for an open society in Dresden, eastern Germany, Saturday Jan. 10, 2015. At right stands Saxony governor Stanislaw Tillich. (AP Photo/dpa,Arno Burgi)

People write messages on the Avaaz “Wall of Love” reading "with you - wall of boundless friendship" in front of the famous Church of Our Lady, on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015 in Dresden, Saxony, eastern Germany. Thousands of people are coming together to add their names to a giant wall of messages expressing hope and unity during a massive anti-Pegida gathering in the city center of Dresden. (Gero Breloer/AP Images for AVAAZ)

Police and city officials couldn't immediately be reached for comment, but German news agency dpa reported Dresden mayor Helma Orosz telling protesters that their city "won't be split apart by hatred."

Chancellor Angela Merkel had previously called on Germans not to participate in Pegida rallies.

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