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German 'anti-Islam' protests: nine things you need to know
A protest in Dresden against "Islamisation" initially attracted 200 people, but has swelled to over 17,000 in a matter of weeks.
The group leading the protests has spawned new branches in other German cities, capitalising on a modern European concern over immigration.
But is this a genuine expression of the national mood, or is Germany playing with fire? We take a closer look at the marches and the people who are really behind them.
Is there a far-right influence?According to a federal spokesman, the instigators of the march "are unmistakably right-wing extremists".
The protests are organised by a group called Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West (Pegida), which gains respectability by its links to freedom demonstrations.
I'm just a small cog in a much bigger wheelMarches are also attended by members of the National Democratic Party - a far right party that claims to be Germany's "only significant patriotic force".
Who is in charge?Lutz Bachmann, a 41-year-old butcher's son, who is the head of Pegida and runs a PR agency.
At a recent rally in his home town of Dresden, he said that while older Germans could not afford "a single slice" of Stollen, German Christmas cake, asylum seekers were enjoying affluent homes.
But he told the Süddeutsche Zeitung: "I'm just a small cog in a much bigger wheel."
What do the protesters say?At Pegida's latest march, protesters were heard chanting Wir sind das Volk - which means "we are the people" - a rallying call heard in Dresden in the weeks leading to the fall of the Berlin Wall 25 years ago.
There's no place for incitement and lies about people who come to us from other countriesSome carried banners with slogans including "Protect our homeland", "Zero tolerance towards criminal asylum seekers", and "Stop the Islamisation".
Chancellor Angela Merkel
Mr Bachmann led the crowds waving German flags or draped in the national colours.
One banner at the latest march proclaimed "No sharia law in Europe!", although most people attending appeared to be non-radical members of the middle class, protesting against asylum seekers and high levels of immigration.
How fast has Pegida grown?The marches started about two months ago, when a few hundred people gathered to demonstrate against radical Islam.
Since then, more and more have joined the demonstrations, which are now being held weekly and which last week reached 17,000 people, partly through growth on social media sites such as Facebook.
What is the government doing?Immigration has become a difficult topic in Germany following a surge in asylum seekers from Iraq and Syria.
Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned Germans against being exploited by extremists.
There is a visible rise in xenophobic crime countrywide German police chief"Everyone [who attends] needs to be careful that they are not taken advantage of by the people who organise such events," she said in Berlin this week.
"There's freedom of assembly in Germany, but there's no place for incitement and lies about people who come to us from other countries.''
Is there really an immigration problem?Germany expects 200,000 asylum claims in 2014 - up from 127,000 in 2013 - and has more asylum seekers than any other country in the EU.
About a third - 34 per cent - believe Germany is undergoing a process of "Islamisation".
Is that the only thing people are protesting against?In the western city of Cologne, about 15,000 people attended a demonstration on Sunday to promote tolerance and open-mindedness, under the motto: "You are Cologne - no Nazis here."
Its participants held banners reading "Act against the right" and "Nazis, no thanks".
Monday's march was met by a counter-protest comprising about 5,000 people.
Is it getting worse?As well as Pegida extending its influence to other German cities, the Dresden marches have inspired copycat protests in places like Dusseldorf, which has a much bigger immigrant population of about 4m Muslims.
Both anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic sentiment has grown this year, with several attacks on Jews and football hooligans joining forces with right-wingers to fight Salafist Muslims.
Is there a solution?The Pegida marches present a dilemma to politicians keen to uncouple strong neo-Nazi elements believed to be at the heart of protests from the bulk of protesters, who are non-radical voters with grievances against the government.
But Mrs Merkel faces a struggle with her own coalition partners in government, who are keen to push her into a difficult corner.
The Social Democrats were angered by Mrs Merkel's reaction to their alliance with former communists in the eastern state, and challenged her to solve "probably the biggest issue of the next decade".