Protest Numbers Shock Public As Germany Debates Immigration05:20
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About 18,000 anti-immigration demonstrators took to the streets yesterday in Dresden, protesting what they call the "Islamization of Europe."

The numbers shocked some observers in part because the protesters came out despite calls from a wide range of institutions and public figures asking Germans to stay away from anti-immigration marches. German Chancellor Angela Merkel personally asked people to stay away from the Dresden rallies, saying leaders with "prejudice, coldness, even hatred in their hearts" organized the events.

Additionally, the provost of the Cologne Cathedral told protestors, "you're taking part in an action that, from its roots and also from its speeches, one can see is Nazi-ist, and you are supporting people you really don't want to support."

Counter demonstrations also broke out across most of Germany, dwarfing the anti-immigration protests in some areas.

Malte Lehming, opinion page editor of the liberal daily German newspaper Der Tagesspiegel, joins Here & Now's Lisa Mullins with details.

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This segment aired on January 6, 2015.

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