Thousands gathered in Germany’s city of Cologne to protest a far-right rally organised by an anti-Islam organization called Hooligans Against Salafist (HoGeSa) on Sunday.
About 1,000 supporters of the far-right group HoGeSa, including football hooligans, right wing protesters and neo-Nazi Civil society groups have called for Germany to close the borders and cancel new mosque plans, one week after a major rally staged by Pegida (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West) in Dresden.
German police tried to stop the far-right rally as dozens of people were injured during similar protests last year.
However, the court ruled out against it on Wednesday and ordered the demonstrators to rally in a designated area instead of marching through streets in order to prevent clashes.
Afterwards, around 10,000 protesters including politicians, left-wing activists, civil society groups and some other citizens took to the streets of Cologne against the anti-refugee and anti-Islam stance of HoGeSa.
Banners such as “You’re not the people!”, “Fight against racism!”, “Refugees welcome!” “Equal rights for everyone”, “Open the borders”, “Right to stay for everyone!” were carried by counter protesters.
Five hooligans were slightly injured when things got chaotic between the sides, the police said.
Around 3,500 police officers managed the prevent another clash from occurring by moving HoGeSa demonstrators to the Deuz district from the area where last year’s demonstrations were held.
Surging anti-refugee, anti-Islam sentiment
Germany is facing surging anti-refugee sentiments as the country is getting ready to accept the new wave of refugees which will raise the number of asylum applications up to one million by the end of the year.
According to new figures, attacks against refugee shelters more than quadrupled this year in comparison to 2014.
The number of attacks stands at 505 in 2015 so far, while 114 such attacks were carried out including arson, vandalism and graffiti in 2014.
In 2011, the number of anti-refugee attacks were only 18 in the country.
Recently, Hernriette Reker, Cologne’s freshly elected refugee friendly mayor was stabbed in the neck by far-right attacker while she was on the campaign trail.
Last week, German police prevented an attack on refugee housings in Germany.
In the course of the operation, the police have arrested 13 members of a neo-nazi group and revoked explosives as well as baseball bats, knives and far-right propaganda materials.