Pegida rally and Paris attacks
A protester against the weekly gathering of the anti-immigration rightwing movement Pegida (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West) waves a flag reading "Nazis no, thanks" in Dresden, GermanyFabrizio Bensch/Reuters

Thousands of people turned up for a rally launched by German far-right group Pegida in the city of Dresden. This is the first weekly rally the "anti-Islamisation" group is carrying out after the Paris attacks.

Organisers have claimed that no less than 30,000 people participated in the rallies by Pegida, which stands for Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident. The right-wingers gathered outside one of Dresden's major landmarks of the Semperoper. Nonetheless, Durchgezählt, a student group that estimates crowd numbers at large events, said that there were between 9,000 and 12,000 protesters.

The demonstrations were held to protest against German Chancellor Angela Merkel's policies on migrant and refugee crisis on the heels of the Paris terror attacks. "The attacks didn't come out of nowhere," Siegfried Daebritz, one of the leaders of the rally, told the gathering.

"They are the result of an immigration policy that invites people from completely foreign cultures with completely different values into countries and regions whose culture many of these immigrants despise," Daebritz stressed.

The rallies began after the protesters observed a moment of silence as a mark of respect for the victims of the Paris attacks. Some held slogans at the rally that read "Yesterday in Paris, tomorrow in Germany".

The anti-immigrant group, which started off as a xenophobic Facebook group, recently marked its one-year anniversary in Dresden, eastern Germany with large rallies. Pegida's latest rally has come at a time when German and other European leaders have warned against stoking anti-refuge and anti-Muslim sentiments.