Berlin far-right supporters outnumbered by counter-protest

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A protester waves the german flag during the right-wing AfD Alternative for Germany political party demonstration titled "Future Germany" on May 27, 2018 in Berlin, Germany. Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption AfD supporters waved German flags as they marched through the capital

Thousands of people gathered in Berlin on Sunday amid a heavy police presence for rival demonstrations, staged by the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party and by counter-protesters.

Police said more than 5,000 people attended the AfD demonstration, while at least twice as many opposed them.

Supporters of the anti-immigration AfD chanted “We are the people”, and were met with chants of “Go away Nazis”.

Berlin police said they had used pepper spray to keep the two groups apart.

AfD supporters gathered at Berlin’s main train station shortly after midday, following a call to members to march through the city “for the future of Germany”.

Images showed riot police making arrests following sporadic clashes at Friedrichstrasse station.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Police said at least twice as many people attended a counter protest against AfD

It was the largest gathering of the nationalist party since it became the largest opposition party in Germany earlier this year, taking 13% of the vote in a general election.

In a newspaper interview ahead of the demonstrations on Sunday, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the general secretary of Germany’s main governing party, the Christian Democrats, accused AfD of being anti-Semitic.

She told Bild am Sonntag the party was a threat to Jewish life in Germany, adding, “there are anti-Semitists in all corners of your party”. The AfD denies being anti-Semitic.

Top AfD figures Joerg Meuthen and Alexander Gauland were due to address the crowd on Sunday.

AfD Berlin chief Georg Pazderski said ahead of the march that many of the party’s supporters feared being “stigmatised” despite the party’s electoral success.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Police arrest a man on a platform of Friedrichstrasse station

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