UK: Anti-Islam group PEGIDA holds rally in Birmingham
Around 200 protesters have performed a “silent march” organized by newly founded and controversial UK branch of anti-Islam PEGIDA movement Saturday in Birmingham city center.
The far-right group members arrived at Birmingham’s international train station under heavy police presence and marched to city’s business park.
A counter gathering was also held by Unite Against Racism at city’s Victoria Square, which saw around 60 people. People sang to bands performing peace songs and shouted anti-fascist slogans. One protester was detained due to public disorder offences, the police said.
There were no reports of serious disorder or injuries.
Previous demonstrations, by Pegida’s predecessor group the English Defence League, have resulted in violent clashes in Birmingham City Centre.
A day before the march, Pegida UK’s leader and ex-UKIP candidate Paul Weston said during a radio program that Muslims should not be in the political arena in Britain.
“I don’t want Muslims in areas of political power because they put Islam as their primary allegiance,” he told to LBC radio, which follows the PEGIDA gatherings across Europe. Watson also described asylum seekers as “migrant invaders” in the same program and rejected the “Syrian refugee” concept.
Some Pegida UK protesters carried posters of U.S. presidential contender Donald Trump, which read “Trump is Right”– a slogan associating with Trump’s recent calls for a total travel ban into the country on Muslims.
Pegida UK is modeled on a fascist German movement, which has the same name PEGIDA (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West), founded in Dresden in 2014 that is opposed to what it considers the Islamization of the West. Other branches have been established in Norway, Sweden and Spain.
The British group is backed by the former leader of the anti-immigration English Defence League Tommy Robinson, who said he wants to appeal to moderate British voters.
PEGIDA also held similar gatherings on Saturday in 14 different European cities including Warsaw, Tallin, Prague, Graz, Bratislava, Amsterdam and Dresden Saturday.
Author Ahmet Gürhan Kartal