German anti-Islam rally draws smaller crowds following leader's resignation

A group protesting against the perceived "Islamization of the West" mustered fewer supporters than previously, with police in the eastern city of Dresden estimating that about 17,300 people took part in the demonstration Sunday.

It was the group's first march since co-founder Lutz Bachmann resigned Wednesday, after German media published Facebook messages in which he called refugees "dirty" and posed as Adolf Hitler.

The group, which calls itself Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West, or PEGIDA, says it isn't racist and has condemned Bachmann's comments about refugees.

PEGIDA's previous protest, two weeks ago, drew a record crowd of 25,000. A demonstration planned last week was canceled after authorities discovered an online threat naming the group as a possible target for a terror attack.

Police said some 5,000 people took part in a counter-protest Sunday, leading to several minor skirmishes between rival supporters.

On Saturday night, about 1,000 people from a different group calling itself Patriotic Europeans Against the Americanization of the West, or PEGADA, clashed with 600 counter-protesters in the nearby city of Erfurt.