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Cologne Cathedral plunged into darkness in protest over anti-Islam rallies

The move came as 18,000 people turned out an anti-immigrant demonstration.

COLOGNE CATHEDRAL SWITCHED off its light last night, in protest at the weekly anti-Islam rallies happening in Dresden.

The symbolic act came as thousands of Germans demonstrated in Cologne and several other cities against the ongoing protests by the group calling itself Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West.

PEGIDA attracted its biggest crowd yet in Dresden yesterday – more than 18,000 people.

Germany Anti Islamization Rally Source: AP/Press Association Images

Cologne Cathedral provost Norbert Feldhoff, told n-tv that shutting down the lights was an attempt to make the PEGIDA demonstrators think twice about their protest.

“You’re taking part in an action that, from its roots and also from speeches, one can see is Nazi-ist, racist and extremist,” he said on n-tv. “And you’re supporting people you really don’t want to support.”

Here’s how the Cathedral usually looks at night:

Germany Anti Islamization Rally Source: AP/Press Association Images

Only about 250 PEGIDA supporters showed up in Cologne, as compared to about ten times that number of counter-demonstrators.

Similarly in Berlin, police said some 5,000 counter-demonstrators blocked about 300 PEGIDA supporters from marching along their planned route from city hall to the Brandenburg Gate. Another 22,000 anti-PEGIDA demonstrators rallied in Stuttgart, Muenster and Hamburg, the dpa news agency reported.

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Nazism 

PEGIDA has sought to distance itself from the far-right, saying in its position paper posted on Facebook that it is against “preachers of hate, regardless of what religion” and “radicalism, regardless of whether religiously or politically motivated.”

“PEGIDA is for resistance against an anti-woman political ideology that emphasizes violence, but not against integrated Muslims living here,” the group said.

It has also banned any neo-Nazi symbols and slogans at its rallies, though critics have noted the praise and support it has received from known neo-Nazi groups.

Without specifically naming PEGIDA, German Chancellor Angela Merkel used her New Year’s address to urge people not to join protests whose leaders often have “prejudice, coldness, even hatred in their hearts”.

Marches by the group have been steadily growing in size in recent months.

More than 18,000 people turned up to an anti-Islam rally in Germany

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Associated Press

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