Pegida is an umbrella campaign group for the German right wing, bringing together broad support from the far-right to the conservatives.

It holds street protests against what it perceives to be a pernicious rise in the influence of Islam over European countries, which in turn erodes Western cultural identity, but also has more general complaints about immigration and asylum seekers

Pegida has attracted thousands of Germans to its rallies since the group formed in October 2014, when it held its first protest in Dresden.

But the group has been linked to violence, including a knife attack on a group of young migrants at a shopping mall after the December Dresden rally. And it has attracted support from hooligans and neo-Nazi groups.

In a poll by German magazine Stern one in eight Germans said they would join the group if it came to where they lived.

Counter-protests against Pegida have also formed in many cities.

For its first protest 350 supporters marched through Dresden. At the latest demonstration in January in the same city, 18,000 people turned up in support, while 4000 counter-protesters also met in Dresden.

In Berlin, 450 Pegida supporters gathered while 5,700 people joined the counter-protest. In Cologne 250 Pegida protesters showed up and with more than 2,000 counter-demonstrators.

Another 22,000 anti-Pegida protesters marched in Stuttgart, Münster and Hamburg combined that day.