A weekly anti-Islam rally in the eastern German city of Dresden drew its biggest crowd yet on Monday, after organizers declared it a tribute to the victims of the terror attacks in Paris.
Organizers said 40,000 people participated in the march, while Dresden police put the figure at over 25,000 people — still considerably more than the 18,000 who came last week.
The group, which calls itself Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West, or PEGIDA, had asked supporters to wear black ribbons as a show of respect for the 17 people killed in the French capital last week.
"The terrible acts of Paris are further proof that PEGIDA is needed," said Lutz Bachmann, one of the organizers of the Dresden rally.
PEGIDA's critics have accused the group of exploiting the attack to stir up race hatred.
Chancellor Angela Merkel and other senior German politicians have called for people to stay away from rallies organized by PEGIDA, people who Merkel has said have "hatred in their hearts."
On Tuesday she will take part in a vigil in Berlin organized by a Muslim group to remember the 17 people killed in attacks at the offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket in Paris.
Bachmann set out PEGIDA's demands for the government, including drawing up a new immigration law, forcing immigrants to integrate and making sure that Islamists who leave Germany to fight are not allowed back into the country.
Protesters, mostly men over 50, many chanting of "Wir sind das Volk" or "We are the people," they said they were more concerned about increasing immigration than the events in France.
Their banners read "Stop multiculturalism," "I'm not a Nazi but everyone who enjoys our hospitality must integrate and respect our culture." and "Stop asylum fraud — every one is too many, go home!"
Berlin police said 4,000 people demonstrated against an anti-Islam rally numbering about 400 protesters. In Munich 20,000 people took to the streets to support tolerance and only 1,500 anti-Islam protesters showed up.
Leipzig police estimated that 15,000 counter-protesters had rallied against a far smaller number of anti-Islam demonstrators.
Before the march on Monday, Merkel said Islam "belongs to Germany," in a clear repudiation of the anti-immigration protesters.
A day after walking arm-in-arm with French President François Hollande at the front of a massive march in Paris to honor the victims of last week's killings in France, Merkel received the Turkish prime minister and urged dialogue among religions.
She pointed to comments made by former German president Christian Wulff, who said in 2010 that Islam was part of Germany, triggering a fierce debate.
"Former president Wulff said Islam belongs to Germany. That is true. I also hold this opinion," Merkel said at a news conference with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who also took part with other world leaders in the Paris march on Sunday.