President praises Germans' willingness to take in refugees as anti-Islam rallies cause concern

Germany's president is praising his compatriots' willingness to take in refugees — a message that comes as growing anti-Islam demonstrations in an eastern city have worried many.

President Joachim Gauck didn't mention directly the group that has organized the rallies in Dresden, Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West, or PEGIDA, in his Christmas message released Wednesday. But he said it is encouraging that "the vast majority of us do not share the views of those who want to seal Germany off."

PEGIDA'S organizers insist they are protesting only against extremism and not against immigrants or Islam itself, but the demonstrations have received support from far-right groups, prompting concerns that anti-foreigner sentiment might be rising. German politicians have been divided over how to respond.