German citizens rally against anti-Islam movement Legida in Leipzig

Updated: 2016-01-12 11:26


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German citizens rally against anti-Islam movement Legida in Leipzig

Participants hold candles and posters reading "Lepizig shows courage" during a protest against LEGIDA, the Leipzig arm of the anti-Islam movement Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West (PEGIDA), in front of St. Nicholas Church in Leipzig, Germany January 11, 2016. [Photo/Agencies]

BERLIN - Forming a "chain of lights" kilometers in length, thousands of people have participated in a rally against the anti-Islam movement Legida in the east German city of Leipzig on Monday evening.

A broad coalition of trade unions, commerce, culture and associations as well as some German parties called for the rally against Legida, the local chapter of xenophobic movement Pegida.

According to estimates by the student group Durchgezaehlt, between 2500 to 2900 people took part in the rally. Many held candles and formed a line that extended through the city center, according to local media. About 2500 to 3400 Legida followers rallied on the other side of the city, initial estimates by the police showed.

With a huge contingent of police on site, the demonstrations were controlled so that clashes between right- and left-wing followers could be prevented.

In the evening, however, 250 masked hooligans rioted in the district of Connewitz. A police spokeswoman said they planned on igniting pyrotechnics and smashing shop windows with stones, but the rallies ended without any major problems.

On Sunday, German police had to break up demonstrations by anti-immigrant Pegida and right-wing extremists after they clashed with police in the western city of Cologne. The impetus for the demonstrations were the New Year's Eve sex assaults in the city.

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