Police in Berlin have clashed with pro-migrant demonstrators who were holding a counter protest to anti-migrant marchers of the populist-nationalist Alternative for Germany (AfD) group on Saturday. At least 10 supporters of the migrants were arrested, with police saying that an officer was lightly wounded in the brawl, according to AFP.
Around 3,500 anti-migrant protestors took to the streets of Berlin shouting slogans such as "Asylum Has Its Limits — Red Card for Merkel". Organisers from AfD had hoped that 5,000 people would turn out to protest at the recent influx of migrants, but far fewer made it to the demonstration.
AfD is the main critic of the top European economy's open-door policy under Chancellor Angela Merkel towards refugees fleeing war and persecution.
Pro-migrant groups, which included representatives of Merkel's Christian Democratic Union of German (CDU), the Social Democratic Party of Germany, The Greens and other left-wing parties, held five counter-protests across Berlin which organisers said had a turnout of 7,000 people.
Police deployed around 1,100 officers to prevent clashes and used pepper spray at times to keep the two protesting groups apart. Besides the 10 arrests, there were no other significant incidents at the protest.
The protests come at a time when the nation is divided about migrants coming into the country, leading to the biggest rise in Nazism in Germany since Adolf Hitler. Neo-Nazis are brazenly targeting refugees, as well as journalists and politicians who are pro-migrant, in brutal attacks reminiscent of the Third Reich's brown shirts.
The situation in Germany has become so toxic that a leading German magazine declared that, "The hate is back". Security sources in Germany, which has taken in more migrants and refugees than any other European country, say they have seen a sharp rise in violence linked to right-wing extremism in recent weeks.
The most significant attack occurred on October 17 when the liberal politician Henriette Reker was stabbed by a neo-Nazi whilst out on the campaign trail in Cologne. The episode led to another German publication, Der Spiegel, to ask: "Does this threaten a relapse to the time of the Weimar Republic when violent political confrontations were commonplace?"
Some neo-Nazis have formed "lynch mobs" who have been attacking migrants in the streets with baseball bats, and attacks on migrants have occurred in at least three cities: Pirna near Dresden, Wismar and Magdeburg, outside Berlin.