Pegida rally Germany 5 January 2015
A Pegida rally in Dresden held on 5 January attracted 18,000 marchersFabrizio Bensch/Reuters

A record number of people are expected to attend an anti-Islam rally in Germany, while the grassroots movement behind it has spread to other European countries in the wake of the deadly Islamist extremist attacks in France.

Germany's Justice Minister Heiko Maas has urged his countrymen not to attend the weekly protests held by the Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the West (Pegida), as the Paris killings seem to have boosted the group's ranks.

"It is simply disgusting how the people behind these protests are trying to exploit the despicable crimes in Paris," Maas told Bild newspaper. "If the organisers had a shred of decency, they would simply cancel these demonstrations."

Up to 20,000 people are expected to take to the streets in Pegida's heartland of Dresden on Monday night (12 January). The group's previous largest rally since its October launch gathered just above 18,000 participants.

Organisers have instructed demonstrators to wear black armbands and said a minute of silence will be observed to pay tribute to the victims of the Paris attacks.

Seventeen people were killed in the French capital over three days of terror that began with a raid on the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

In a Facebook post, Pegida claimed the attacks validated its anti-Islamic stance.

"The Islamists, against whom Pegida has been warning over the last 12 weeks, showed in France today that they are not capable of [practising] democracy but instead see violence and death as the solution," it wrote.

A group of French cartoonists have distanced themselves from Pegida, which they accused of exploiting the deaths of their colleagues for political gain.

The cartoonists distributed flyers in Dresden depicting the Islamophobic movement as a hyena ready to feed itself on the bloodshed at Charlie Hebdo.

Nevertheless the deadly spree in Paris seems to have reinvigorated anti-Muslim rhetoric across Europe, with Pegida spin-off groups being set up in numerous countries.

Pegida Facebook pages have been created in Austria, Sweden, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway, where protesters are to march in Oslo simultaneously to their German counterparts.

The movement has also met a strong opposition in Germany. Last week, dozens of public figures, including retired footballers, actors and former heads of state signed a petition against Pegida, whose supporters were outnumbered by counter-protesters at numerous rallies.