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German Anti-Immigrant Group Protests As Migrants Pour Into Country

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Many of the migrants Lauren Frayer just told us about are hoping to reach Germany, which is on track to receive up to a million migrants this year. They are not universally welcome. Last night in Dresden, an anti-immigration group known as Pegida marked its first anniversary with a rally, which also attracted counterdemonstrators. Nadine Lindner is a reporter with German public broadcaster Deutschlandradio. She was at last night's demonstrations and joins us to talk about it. Good morning.

NADINE LINDNER: Hello, good morning.

MONTAGNE: Germany, certainly Chancellor Merkel, has seemed welcoming to migrants. What does this anti-immigration or migrant rally mean?

LINDNER: Well, I think the main message of Pegida last night was that after one year they want to say, we are still here. We are still strong. The speakers also yesterday continued a hate campaign against asylum seekers, Muslim and the German government. Remember the last week, where there was a mock gallow carried around at the Pegida demonstration with a sign, reserved for Angela Merkel. We saw clashes between Pegida supporters, counterdemonstrators and the police. There were reporters attacked and people injured.

MONTAGNE: Talk to us a little bit about Dresden. It has a history of these sorts of demonstrations.

LINDNER: Many people in eastern Germany had the kind of bad experiences after the reunification in 1990. People lost jobs. And now the economy - like, 25 years after that - is better. But I think there's still that fear of economic decline. Plus, here in the east of Germany, we don't have so many foreigners living here. So people lack just the experience of how it is to live together with people that don't speak your language, that don't come from your country. Plus that Dresden itself is a conservative town.

MONTAGNE: And the counterdemonstrators, are they also from Dresden? And what was their message?

LINDNER: Yeah, the counterdemonstrators, they came from Dresden. But they also came from other places here in Germany. And their claim yesterday was love against hate. The counterdemonstrators claim that Germany should continue to welcome refugees.

MONTAGNE: Well, the migrants certainly are not going to stop trying to make their way to Germany. So what is your sense of how big a political force this anti-immigration group will become or is becoming?

LINDNER: Well, for the moment, I would say Pegida is more a phenomenon in the media. It's not a political force in the sense that they are a political party - not yet. But as I perceive it is that their hate campaign - or their fear campaign - might appeal to even more people here in Germany if they see that there's, like, no proper plan of how to handle the situation with the refugees and asylum seekers.

MONTAGNE: Reporter Nadine Lindner is with Deutschlandradio. She spoke to us from the eastern German city of Dresden. Thank you so much.

LINDNER: Thank you. Bye-bye. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.