Hundreds of Germans, self-styled hooligans and far-right extremists, gathered in a controversial rally in Hanover on Saturday.
The demonstrators shouted racist slogans: “Germany for the Germans,” “Foreigners out,” “Germany wake up,” during the “Europe against the terror of Islam” rally, organized by a recently formed group “Hooligans against Salafists,” an alliance of hooligans and neo-Nazis, also known as the HoGeSa.
The police have taken heavy security measures in Hanover on Saturday after violent clashes took place in Cologne last month in the first major protest of the extremist group. A series of confrontations occurred during the day when some of the demonstrators tried to break through the barricades; police used pepper spray on several protesters.
On the same day, leftist and anti-fascist groups held counter-demonstrations in the eastern part of the city. Green Party lawmaker and Deputy Speaker of the German Parliament Claudia Roth and Social Democrat mayor of Hannover, Stefan Schostok were among the politicians who participated at the counter-demonstrations.
The demonstration of the right-wing extremists and hooligans drew smaller crowds than expected. Around 3,000 far-right activists and hooligans gathered in Hanover, compared with 4,500 demonstrators at the counter demonstration, according to the German news agency dpa.
The extremists had expected 5,000 protestors to come to Hanover from around the country.