Chancellor Merkel tells Germans to stay away from weekly anti-Islam protests

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned the country's citizens not to participate in weekly anti-Islam rallies that have attracted growing numbers of supporters in the eastern German city of Dresden.

Merkel in her New Year's speech condemned the organizers of the protests and said they are driven by prejudices and hatred against foreigners.

The chancellor found unusually direct words Wednesday for the rallies organized by a group calling itself Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West, or PEGIDA which have been attended by thousands.

She said when the protesters chant "We are the people," they actually mean to say "You don't belong — because of your religion or your skin color."

Merkel's speech was released in print early Wednesday and will be shown on public television in the evening.