We’ve been covering the refugee crisis in Europe and the insistence by Angela Merkel and other EU leaders that the “migrant” crisis is not a factor in the crimes committed by migrants. Such denials have stoked anger in Europe, which has seen horrible crimes like the mass rape and sexual abuse on New Year’s Eve.
In reaction, a wave of anti-Islamification rallies and protests took place this weekend in Germany, the UK, Denmark, France, and numerous other countries, even in Australia.
Nationalist groups in Europe have been galvanized by the unprecedented influx of refugees from Africa, Asia and the Middle East last year. Today similar, smaller PEGIDA-style protests were planned in France, Britain, Poland, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands.
In the Czech capital of Prague, thousands rallied against the influx of refugees and others in support of them and opposing protesters clashed and had to be separated by police.
Martin Konvicka, a leader of the anti-Muslim movement, is calling the influx of refugees an ‘invasion’ that poses a ‘huge threat for us all’. Two other anti-migrant groups are rallying in Prague and another in the second-largest Czech city of Brno.
In Dublin, scuffles broke out between people who had gathered to protest against the launch of Pegida in Ireland, and those who attended the launch of the group.
. . . . In Amsterdam, riot police have clashed with PEGIDA demonstrators as they tried to hold their first protest in the Dutch capital.
A square near Amsterdam city hall that had been earmarked for the rally had to be shut down shortly before the gathering as police and explosives experts examined what police called a ‘suspect package’.
Only about 200 PEGIDA supporters were present, where they were heckled by left-wing demonstrators who shouted: ‘Refugees are welcome, fascists are not!’
Dutch riot police detained several people as officers on horseback intervened to separate the two groups of demonstrators.
Other demonstrations took place in Warsaw, Bratislava and in Graz in southern Austria.
PEGIDA, founded in 2014 in Germany, stands for “Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident.” Since its inception, the group has been attacked by German and European politicians and media as a far-right extremist fringe group with xenophobic and nationalist tendencies.
Watch coverage of a German protest:
The Guardian is reporting that there has been only one arrest at the Birmingham, UK rally . . . of an “anti-fascist” protester.
Supporters of the anti-Islam group Pegida staged a silent march in Birmingham standing against what they called “the most dreadful, subversive, violent ideology” as clashes broke out at twin rallies in France and the
About 200 demonstrators gathered for the inaugural Pegida rally in the UK – half as many as expected by police – which took place on an industrial estate miles from the city centre.
The rally appeared to pass without incident as dozens of riot police kept Pegida supporters away from about 60 anti-fascism activists at Birmingham International rail station.
West Midlands police said they made one arrest – at the anti-fascism counter demonstration for a public order offence – during the Birmingham rally, one of 14 expected to take place around Europe on Saturday.
Tommy Robinson, former head of the English Defense League (EDL), organized the Birmingham, UK rally and stated that there was no racism or violence among the PEGIDA protestors. The Guardian quotes him as saying that there was “no racism, no inciting hatred, no violence, no thugs, no hooligans. This is a movement you can support.”
Addressing a crowd of about 150 Pegida supporters, Robinson said: “As we set off at 2pm, people set off in Germany, in Holland, in Bulgaria, in the Czech Republic, in Belgium, in Poland. Our opposition will say you achieved nothing today – the whole of Europe is talking about this debate right now thanks to every single person in Europe that’s taken part in it.”
Robinson said on Friday night he met a man with a swastika tattoo on his finger who said he was going to the Pegida UK march. “Six years on and I’m still having to tell you: if you’re a Nazi, if you’re a racist, and you’re watching this – you’re not welcome on the streets in the UK with us,” he said to cheers.
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