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German leaders call for halt to anti-Islamisation rallies
Monday January 12, 2015 7:56 PM, Agencies

German leaders have called for a halt to anti-Islamisation rallies planned in the country after the terror attacks in Paris that claimed 17 lives, a media report said Monday.

Justice Minister Heiko Maas appealed to people not to participate in a rally in Dresden, the capital city of the Free State of Saxony, which was planned for Monday by the Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the West (PEGIDA), a group that resists Muslim immigrants coming to Germany, BBC reported.

Mass urged the rally organisers not to "misuse" the deadly attacks on Charlie Hebdo magazine and a Jewish supermarket in France.

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere also criticised the organisers.

Chancellor Angela Merkel is set to take part in a demonstration in Berlin planned by Muslim groups Tuesday against the French attacks, her spokesperson said. Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel and other ministers are also expected to be there.

Around 550 Germans are believed to have travelled to Syria and Iraq to join extremist groups such as the Islamic State.

Intelligence chief Hans-Georg Maassen told German TV Monday that as many as 180 had returned home.

A German newspaper based in Hamburg that republished controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, which had originally been printed by Charlie Hebdo in 2006, became the target of an arson attack early Sunday.

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