German Unity Day: Angela Merkel booed and jeered by protesters at annual celebrations in Dresden

Several hundred people descend on annual event to voice their anger over the leader's policies

Bridie Witton
Tuesday 04 October 2016 15:52
Pegida supporters, including one holding a sign that shows German Chancellor Angela Merkel dressed in a Nazi uniform
Pegida supporters, including one holding a sign that shows German Chancellor Angela Merkel dressed in a Nazi uniform

Angela Merkel has been booed and jeered by protesters while attending celebrations for German Unity Day in Dresden.

Demonstrators held placards which said "Merkel must go", while shouting the slogan at the German Chancellor and President Joachim Gauck as they greeted attendees.

German media estimated the number of protesters at the celebrations, which mark 26 years since Germany's reunification, at "several hundred".

Ms Merkel has faced criticism for her open-door refugee policy as last year's arrivals of around one million migrants, mainly Muslims fleeing conflict and poverty in the Middle East, has increased social tensions in the country.

Ms Merkel, who grew up in East Germany, used a short statement to call for "mutual respect" in the political debate and said she wished all sides could work together to tackle the new problems, regardless of their different political views.

Dresden is the birthplace of the anti-Islam Pegida grassroots movement, whose rallies attracted as many as 20,000 supporters at the group's height of popularity at the start of 2015.

Security was tightened for the event, with 2,600 police officers on duty, after two improvised bombs exploded in Dresden last week - one at a mosque and one at an international conference centre.

Three police cars were also set alight by unknown perpetrators in the city on Saturday.

Germany was reunified on 3 October 1990.

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