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German soccer fans hoist giant signs that say: “Refugees welcome”

AP Photo/Jens Meyer
A warm welcome in Dresden.
By Hanna Kozlowska
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Migrants and refugees on their way to Germany, fleeing en masse from war-torn countries in the Middle East and Africa, received a warm welcome from an unexpected constituency this weekend: the country’s soccer fans.

While some parts of Germany saw a flurry of anti-migrant protests over the weekend, soccer fans—notorious in Europe for their less-than-friendly attitude toward foreigners—had a clear message for the hundreds of thousands of people making a dangerous journey across the Mediterranean:

The German club Borussia Dortmund even invited 220 refugees to a game.

Thousands of people also gathered in the German city of Dresden, in a region where the anti-migrant sentiment is particularly high, carrying similar banners and chanting “Say it loud, say it clear, refugees are welcome here.” Germany is expecting up to 800,000 asylum seekers this year. The country’s chancellor Angela Merkel pledged to implement a zero-tolerance policy against anti-migration violence and called for EU countries to act to resolve the crisis.

“Germany is a strong country—we will manage,” she said of the challenges associated with taking in refugees. Germany has taken more asylum seekers by far than any other EU country, as of the first quarter of 2015, according to the most recent data available from the EU’s statistics bureau. But on a per citizen basis, Hungary has shouldered the heaviest load.

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