Merkel urges Germans to reject anti-Muslim protests

BERLIN - Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Germans to turn their backs on a growing grass-roots movement of anti-Muslim protesters, calling them racists full of hatred, and said Europe's biggest economy must welcome people fleeing conflict and war.
In an unusually strongly worded New Year address that also condemned Russia for its actions in Ukraine, Merkel said it was essential for Germany to help the children of persecuted people to grow up without fear.
Many Germans are worried about a flood of asylum seekers, many from Syria, pouring into the country. A new movement, Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West (PEGIDA), is holding weekly rallies in the eastern city of Dresden.
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