Tens of thousands of people are expected to take to the streets of the German city of Cologne next month to protest a planned Islamophobic conference, news reports said Tuesday. Around 40,000 demonstrators are scheduled to voice outrage over the so-called ‘Anti-Islamization Congress’ due to take place from September 19-21 in Cologne. A wide spectrum of nationwide civic groups, among them labour, student, church and anti-racial groups, are due to join the protests and mass blockades.

Efforts to ban the event which will be hosted by the far-right group ‘Pro Koeln’, failed because of legal reasons, Cologne Police President Klaus Steffenhagen said. ‘Pro Koeln’ which is being observed by Germany’s domestic Verfassungsschutz intelligence agency, has invited around 1,000 right- wing extremists to the controversial meeting in Cologne, including leading far-right politicians from the US, France, Austria, Belgium, Britain, Spain and Italy. A major focus of ‘Pro Koeln’ has been its contentious opposition to the planned construction of a central mosque for Cologne’s nearly 150,000-strong Muslim community.

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