Business leaders, the political class and average Germans are pushing back against a growing anti-immigrant movement, saying it threatens the values and image the country fought hard to establish since the war.

At counter-demonstrations and on social media, opponents have mobilised against the far-right group which claims Germany is being overrun by Islamic extremists.

President Joachim Gauck, who was a pro-democracy pastor in communist East Germany, devoted his annual Christmas speech to a forceful appeal for compassion and openness toward asylum seekers.

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