German police fired a water cannon at PEGIDA protesters in Cologne during the clash between the far-right group members and police. Afterwards some of the protesters threw beer bottles and firecrackers at police, a witness said.
Two people were injured in the clash in which police arrested several PEGIDA members.
Police called xenophobic far-right group PEGIDA members to return to a square from where they had set out to march through the city.
According to a police spokeswoman, nearly 1,700 people joined the PEGIDA protest, many of them were from the ‘hooligan scene’ as she described.
One of the anti-refugee PEGIDA members was seen carrying a banner that read "Rapefugees not welcome," during the protest.
Recently, German federal police had identified 32 people who were responsible for the assaults on women in Cologne on New Year’s Eve, 22 of them were seeking asylum in Germany.
PEGIDA (Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the West) is a German far right anti-Islam political group founded in Dresden in October 2014. It organises weekly recurring protests against what it cogitates as the Islamisation of the West and its ideology calls for strictly restrictive immigration, especially for Muslims. PEGIDA pursues to alter German legislation.
The anti-Islamist group is seen as a racist and borderline fascist group by many in Europe and has drawn criticism from significant political figures, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Acceptance of refugees while struggling with far-right movements
Germany has also been struggling with anti-refugee Islamophobic movements such as PEGIDA as the country accepts the new wave of refugees after it announced that it would accept more than one million refugees by the end of 2015.
Germany accepted almost 1.1 million refugees this year and federal states are planning to allot a budget of about 17 billion euros ($17.58 billion) for the accommodation of refugees in 2016.
However, according to the figures, attacks against refugees more than quadrupled in 2015 compared with the figures of 2014.
The number of attacks were counted as 505 in 2015 while just 114 of them were anti-refugee incidents.
In 2011, the number of anti-refugee attacks were only 18 in the country.
Hernriette Reker, Cologne’s refugee friendly mayor candidate was stabbed in the neck by a far-right attacker while she was on the campaign trail last October.