1043 GMT February 18, 2020
Nearly 2,000 far-right demonstrators, who called themselves “patriots” gathered outside the official residence of the German leader and in front of Berlin's central train station on Saturday, demanding Merkel’s resignation for allowing more than a million refugees from the Middle East into Germany since last year.
The anti-refugee protesters also chanted Islamophobic slogans, held nationalistic banners and carried placards reading “We are the People,” and “Merkel must go.”
The protesters were outnumbered by some 7,500 pro-refugee demonstrators, who also rallied through the German capital and chanted anti-fascist slogans. The left-wing demonstrators carried banners and placards reading “Berlin! Better without Nazis.”
Although around 1,700 police officers kept watching over the demonstrators along the protest route, some violence occurred, with police arresting 40 of protesters from the pro-refugee camp. Up to 13 police officers also sustained injuries.
Germany, one of the most popular destinations for refugees, registered about 1.1 million asylum seekers between January and December 2015. The country is expecting 2.5 million more to arrive over the next five years.
Europe is facing its worst refugee crisis since the end of World War II as vast numbers of asylum seekers fleeing conflict-ridden zones in Africa and the Middle East try to gain access to the continent.
The refugee crisis in Europe and a series of terrorist attacks across the globe have given rise to a sense of Islamaphobia among racists and xenophobes in the West.
Many blame major European powers for the unprecedented exodus, saying their policies have led to a surge in terrorism and war in the violence-hit regions, forcing more people out of their homes.