Thousands Protest Racism in Berlin

Thousands Protest Racism in Berlin

BERLIN (AP) -- Tens of thousands of people protested racism and discrimination Saturday in Berlin, a demonstration that came amid rising concerns about Germany's increasingly confident far right.

A wide range of groups, including pro-refugee, gay rights and Muslim organizations, backed the "Indivisible" protest in the heart of the German capital under the slogan "solidarity instead of exclusion — for an open and free society."

Last year's German election saw the far-right Alternative for Germany party enter the national parliament. Anti-migrant violence a few weeks ago in the eastern city of Chemnitz has added to concerns.

Organizers said at least 150,000 people turned out Saturday. There was no immediate crowd estimate from police.

Among backers was Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, who told the Funke newspaper group that he welcomed "a great signal" that "the majority in our country stands for tolerance and openness."

The local branch of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative party didn't back the protest, with senior official Stefan Evers arguing that its supporters included various "dubious organizations."