Germany Pegida protests: 'Islamisation' rallies denounced

BERLIN. KAZINFORM - Politicians and celebrities in Germany have joined a media campaign against Pegida, a group protesting against what it sees as the "Islamisation" of Europe.

Former Chancellor Helmut Schmidt and retired footballer Oliver Bierhoff are among 80 figures to back a petition in German newspaper Bild. It comes after rival rallies took place across the country. Some 18,000 people attended one anti-immigration rally in Dresden on Monday, BBC News reports. There have been weekly protests by the Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the West (Pegida) since October. But counter demonstrations have sprung up, with thousands marching in Berlin, Cologne, Dresden and Stuttgart. Figures joining the Bild appeal said "'no' to xenophobia and 'yes' to diversity and tolerance," according to the newspaper. Pegida "appeals to hollow prejudices, xenophobia and intolerance," wrote former Social Democrat Chancellor Helmut Schmidt. "A look at our past and economic sense tells us Germany should not spurn refugees and asylum-seekers," he added. Another former Chancellor, Gerhard Schroder, also voiced concerns, along with actress Karoline Herfurth, who appeared in The Reader, and TV presenter Thomas Gottschalk. Full story

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