Alarmed by the growing popularity of an anti-Islam movement in Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel and other government leaders have appealed to the public to stay away from it and not to “become tools” in the hands of the organisers of such events.

“There is freedom of demonstration in Germany, but there is no place for spreading hatred and slander against people who come to us from other countries,” Merkel said at a news conference here on Monday.

Therefore, everyone should be careful not to become tools in the hands of the organisers of such events, she said.

More than 10,000 people had demonstrated in eastern Germany against “criminal asylum seekers” and the “Islamisation” of the country, in the latest show of strength of a growing far-right populist movement on Monday.

Organised by a right-wing group called ‘Patriotic Europeans Against Islamisation of the West Pegida’, the movement began in the eastern German city of Dresden in September by staging demonstrations every Monday to protest against the government.