Migrants and refugees seeking asylum in Germany attend a German-language class at the shelter where they live while their asylum applications are processed on February 25, 2016 in Sarstedt, Germany. (Alexander Koerner/Getty Images)

Thousands of people in cities across Germany marched against the refugee influx last weekend. But what struck observers most were not the slogans but rather the origins of those chanting them.

Many protesters, according to German media reports, were themselves immigrants and former refugees.

That Germany's newest citizens are also among the country's most outspoken critics of migrants has flabbergasted experts and politicians alike.

A widely cited survey from several weeks ago showed that about one in four migrants thinks Germany should stop taking in refugees altogether, whereas support for refugees is far higher among all Germans, according to the polling institute infratest dimap. Overall, only 4 percent of all Germans agreed that refugees fleeing war should not be granted asylum.

According to the country's statistical office, about 10 million immigrants (about 12 percent of the population) lived in Germany in 2014, the year before the country took in more than 1 million refugees.

There are two reasons that could explain why migrants are particularly opposed to the refugee influx.

1. Fear of negative repercussions 

Muslim migrants, particularly, fear that the influx of refugees could have negative repercussions for them -- both economically as well as on a more subtle level. In an interview with German broadcaster Deutsche Welle, German sociologist Friedrich Heckmann recently explained that the aggressive reactions were part of "competition between established migrants and newcomers over the same or similar resources."

For instance, Heckmann referred to state subsidies, which are limited. However, the New Year's Eve incidents at Cologne's main station in which several migrants were alleged to have assaulted women have led to more fears: Some migrants believe that Germans could ultimately turn against all refugees and fail to differentiate between criminals and established and assimilated migrants.

2. Fabricated coverage

A significant number of those migrants opposed to the current refugee influx have Russian origins, according to German newspaper Die Welt. German politicians have recently accused Russian state media of broadcasting a deliberately falsified picture of how the country handles the refugees.

As my colleague Adam Taylor explained, an alleged rape of a young girl recently made headlines -- but only in Russia. German authorities later said that the story was fabricated. Many Russians living in Germany still rely on Russian media outlets and consequently organized protests in front of the chancellor's office in Berlin, for instance.

German authorities now accuse Russia of falsifying coverage and inciting tensions within Germany. According to the respected German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung, the German government launched an investigation into the matter after its intelligence agency BND accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of reportedly sowing "the seeds of discord in Europe by weakening Germany and Angela Merkel."

In a statement, Christiane Wirtz, Germany's deputy government spokeswoman, acknowledged that authorities were "closely monitoring the current spike in Russian media activity."

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