Thousands of people are taking part in protests against Islam and immigration in several European cities.

Police in Dresden say they expect about 15,000 protesters at a rally organized by the group Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West. Known by its German acronym PEGIDA, the group emerged in Dresden two years ago and has become a magnet for far-right and anti-immigrant sentiment.

About 10,000 people are expected to take part in a counter-demonstration Saturday on the other side of the river Elbe, which divides the city.

Similar, smaller PEGIDA-style protests were planned in France, Britain, Poland, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands.

Nationalist groups in Europe have been galvanized by the unprecedented influx of refugees from Africa, Asia and the Middle East last year.