European Anti-Islam Group PEGIDA Protests All Across Europe
PEGIDA protests Took Place In Several European Countries On Saturday To Show Anger Over Immigration Of Muslims To Europe
Anti-Islam and Anti-Refugee rallies organized by the far right German based PEGIDA movement swept Europe on Saturday.
According to Al Jazeera America, PEGIDA, which stands for Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West, was born in 2014 in Dresden, and although it started out small and nearly died out, an influx of over a million mostly Muslim refugees into Europe over the past year has given the movement new life.
Among the speakers at the PEGIDA protests in Dresden, where an estimated 8,000 protesters gathered, was Siegfried Daebritz — who called for tighter controls over immigration, talking about it as if it was an invasion.
“We must succeed in guarding and controlling Europe’s external borders as well as its internal borders once again.”
The crowd chanted, “Merkel must go,” seeing the German Chancellor Angela Merkel as the major problem given her open door policy to refugees.
PEGIDA protests were also staged in Prague, Amsterdam, Warsaw, the UK, and France among other places.
Calais is home to a refugee camp known as “the Jungle”, where hundreds of refugees from North Africa, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan are waiting for an opportunity to get across the English Channel to the UK.
At the PEGIDA protests in Calais, which officials had banned, around 100 people showed up. More than a dozen people were arrested according to Reuters.
Prague saw an estimated 2,200 protesters, and PEGIDA and rival groups squared off, with at least one incidence of violence where anti-PEGIDA protesters were surrounded and pelted with rocks and bottles. About 20 masked PEGIDA members attacked a center that collects donations for refugees with Molotov cocktails, leading to the evacuation of the building and one injury.
According to the Guardian, ex-English Defense League leader and supposedly reformed extremist Tommy Robinson spoke at PEGIDA protests in Birmingham and vowed further gatherings.
“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.”
Birmingham MP Jess Phillips had harsh words for Tommy over the PEGIDA protests.
“People in Birmingham chose hope. His costly hate rallies have no place in our city. If anyone should go home from Birmingham it is Tommy Robinson. The public should be made aware of the cost of these rallies in police time.”
The issue of cost when it comes to rallies like the PEGIDA protests was also brought up by the chairman of the Birmingham central mosque, and a Labour party councilor Muhammad Afzal.
“Years ago they protested against the Jews, then the Irish, then black people and now against Muslims. We condemn these extremists no matter where they come from. Islam is a very peaceful religion. We are quite happy to have a dialogue with them, but just spending public sector money [on policing the rallies], when there are a lot of cuts is not fair.”
Unfortunately, as refugees continue to pour into Europe looking for a better, safer life, the far-right opposition to immigration seems to be growing, as illustrated by the sheer number of cities the PEGIDA protests occurred in, even if numbers weren’t as high as organizers would have liked.
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Chris Hearn is an ageing freelance writer located in wintery Winnipeg. He is a stay-at-home-parent, amateur stand-up comedian, and a guy with a lot of opinions, much to everyone’s dismay.