Germans protest against racism at far-right stronghold

Up to 20,000 people gathered in Dresden on Saturday against the far right

DRESDEN, GERMANY - August 24: Protesters participate in the Unteilbar ("indivisable") march against racism, exclusion and exploitation and for an open society on August 24, 2019 in Dresden, Germany. Organizers of the march decry the growing divisions in European society that they claim are being fueled by policies that accentuate the gap between rich and poor, that prioritize security over human rights and that promote nationalism over inclusion. 
Saxony is going to hold state elections on September 1 and the right-wing AfD party could well emerge as the strongest single party. (Photo by Gabriel Kuchta/Getty Images)

Thousands of people attended a protest against racism and discrimination in the German city of Dresden on Saturday, a week  before two state elections in the country's east, in which the far-right Alternative for Germany party is expected to make gains.

Saturday's "Indivisible" demonstration in Dresden — the capital of Saxony, one of the states that holds elections on September 1 —  comes after a protest under the same title in Berlin in October. Organisers said the Berlin protest drew more than 240,000 people.

News agency dpa reported that up to 20,000 people gathered for the beginning of Saturday's protest, and  organisers later said it drew at least 35,000. Those who showed up included Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz, a leading figure in  the  centre-left Social Democrats of Germany, who said "there is a great willingness to show that we must do something" and stand up for democracy.

Saxony has for years been a stronghold of Alternative for Germany, and the anti-migration group Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the West rose to prominence with weekly protests in Dresden.

Saturday's  organisers said that "Dresden is much, much more than Pegida."