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20/10/2015 12:54 BST | Updated 20/10/2015 13:59 BST

Tommy Robinson Tells 40,000 At Pegida Anniversary To Not Let Germany 'Be Dragged Back To Destruction'

Tommy Robinson has told a 40,000-strong crowd gathered to celebrate the first anniversary of anti-refugee group Pegida that Angela Merkel is "handing out the birth right of German citizens like she is handing out candy".

As he continues he his attempts to rehabilitate and reinvigorate his public profile the founder and former leader of the English Defence League commanded his biggest audience yet in Dresden on Monday night. Robinson's speech comes little over a week since he suggested he was going to move back into the political spotlight after helping launch Pegida Netherlands in Holland, and comes little over two years since he quit the EDL saying he was unable to control "extremist elements" within its ranks.

The 32-year-old told the crowd: "Do not let Germany be dragged back to chaos and destruction. All of your progress is now threatened.

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Former EDL leader Tommy Robinson addresses crowds at the Pegida anniversary event in Dresden

"Your current chancellor, Angela Merkel, seems to be handing out the birth right of German citizens like she is handing out candy to children."

The Pegida movement has expanded rapidly over the summer as the migrant crisis worsened, with the crowds turning up to rallies growing by the week.

The movement first emerged as an anti-Islam movement in October 2014, but was said to have largely disappeared from public view after pictures emerged in January showing its co-founder, Lutz Bachmann, sporting a Hitler moustache.

Robinson said the migrant crisis was being compared to the Second World War, and that like then, people are being encouraged to respond with "generosity". However, he said, there was a difference and problems "we are not permitted to speak about" were being ignored.

They were, he explained: "The two evils: terrorism and ideology."

"We are offered silence, free speech is all but dead in Europe. We live in a post free speech era, the attacks on Charlie Hebdo have proven that to the whole world," Robinson added.

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A 40,000 strong crowd turned out for Pegida's anniversary

"Only in assemblies like these can the truth be spoken about. And those like me who speak out about the dangers facing our countries, we’re confronted with death threats. We face harassment and persecution."

Robinson went on to say "every country has a right to defend themselves" and encouraged those gathered to "refuse the shame game".

He implored those gathered to "refuse to feel guilty. Germany is not obliged to save the refugee crisis".

"This current immigration is an invasion. Our borders are being overrun. There is little or no control. A country that cannot control its borders will soon not be a country," he said.

Robinson concluded with the same key message he spoke of in Holland, that everyone needed to be under "one banner" to "save our culture. Save our country. Save our future. Unite to save a future for our children."

The rally continued into the night Monday as senior German officials warned that the extremist movement is stirring up hatred that could lead to clashes. Just two days earlier a pro-refugee mayoral candidate in Cologne was stabbed in the neck by a man with a neo-Nazi background.

Pegida supporters have accused Merkel of "treason" for opening the country's borders to refugees. German has said it would take 800,000 this year alone. One protester is reportedly facing a possible charge of public incitement to commit crime, after being seen carrying a mock gallows with the chancellor's name on it.

Tensions were heightened in Dresden by the presence of counter-demonstrations but Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere urged Germans to "stay away from those who inject this hate, this poison into our country".

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De Maiziere reportedly described Pegida, which stands for ‘Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident’, as "hardcore right-wing extremists".

Merkel backed her interior minister's comments, telling Germans to "stay away from those with hate in their hearts".

Officials said attacks on asylum seekers had tripled from last year and had left more than 40 people injured.

A study by Dresden's Technical University, according to the Mail Online, found that German society was being polarised and were participating in the rallies because they were "discontent with German politics" and resented migrants and asylum-seekers.