BERLIN - German prosecutors have opened an investigation after a demonstrator held up a mock gallows with nooses marked for Chancellor Angela Merkel and her deputy at a protest organized by anti-Islam movement PEGIDA on Monday.
Several thousand people took part in Monday's rally in the eastern German city Dresden. Germany, a favored destination for refugees fleeing war in the Middle East, expects a record 800,000 to a million asylum seekers to arrive this year.
Public prosecutors in Dresden said a criminal investigation had been opened into persons unknown for disturbing the peace and threatening crimes, as well as public incitement to commit crimes.
Many Germans have welcomed the influx. But others oppose Merkel's welcoming stance. German federal police have counted 26 arson attacks on refugee shelters in the first nine months of the year.
Politicians from Merkel's ruling coalition of her conservatives and the Social Democrats (SPD) were quick to condemn the mock gallows with nooses marked as 'reserved' for the chancellor and SPD leader Sigmar Gabriel.
"A line has been crossed here," said Michael Grosse-Broemer, deputy floor leader of Merkel's conservative CDU in parliament.