The PEGIDA demonstration against political Islam passed off peacefully in both Birmingham, England and Canberra, Australia yesterday, but other meetings in Europe were met with scenes of violence. The leader of PEGIDA Ireland was hospitalised with injuries, while in Calais a former Foreign Legion General was arrested and charged with taking part in a banned protest.
The PEGIDA rally in Canberra, Australia was the first to kick off thanks to the significant time difference, under the banner of Reclaim Australia. Canberra organiser Daniel Evans thanked his 250 “fellow patriots” for making the journey; they in turn cheered as he jeered the 40 counter-protestors, shouting “we outnumber them and our voice is louder”, the Canberra Times has reported.
— Georgina Connery (@georginaconnery) February 6, 2016
Following a peaceful march unhindered up Federation Mall and onto the Parliament House Lawn, South Australian lawyer John Bolton addressed the crowd, warning of the risks of “Islamic barbarity” and fervently encouraged protesters to openly “insult and vilify Islam five times a day if you want to”.
Mr Evans said “We are a multi-ethnic country but we have one culture, Australian culture. I’m not against Muslims. I’m against the ideology of Islam. We have extremists here preaching hate. These are the ones we need to get rid of.”
The Australians opted not to march in silence, instead chanting: “Everybody’s welcome, Sharia is not.”
— Snooke (@tigertrollz) February 6, 2016
— Subel B (@svbel) February 6, 2016
The former Foreign Legion General Christian Piquemal was among 20 people arrested in Calais yesterday for taking part in the only PEGIDA march to be officially prohibited.
Despite the ban, approximately 150-200 PEGIDA supporters took to the port town to chant slogans including “We must not let Calais die!”. Among them was Julian Wysocki, a lorry driver from Saint-Omer who told Nord Littoral “I’ve already been assaulted by a migrant in Calais wielding a knife.” He said that taking part in the march despite the ban was a no-brainer as “they [PEGIDA] make things happen.”
Tension was high throughout the event, however, with clashes between PEGIDA and the police, and even with reporters as protestors accused them of being collaborators. Much of the French press has taken to referring to PEGIDA as “Islamophobic”. The left were also present, some of whom were arrested.
Five of those arrested have been summoned to court tomorrow, four charged with carrying weapons illegally. General Piquemal will also appear in court as he has been accused of taking “the leading role” in the proscribed assembly. He has been charged with “participation in an unlawful assembly which was not dissolved after summons.”
— Discourse Institute (@DiscourseInst) February 7, 2016
In one of the largest demonstrations, 1,500 PEGIDA protestors turned out at Prague Castle, significantly outnumbering the few hundred counter-protestors who had turned out, NU.nl has reported. Others put the figure as high as 4,000 for the whole city, as smaller demonstrations also took place in Wenceslas Square and Loretánské náměstí, according to the Prague Post.
Martin Konvicka, the leader of PEGIDA in the Czech Republic, addressed the crowd calling the influx of migrants an “invasion” which poses a “huge threat for us all.”
Although the rally passed of mostly peacefully, there were some clashes with counter-demonstrators – bottles were thrown in Thunovská Street although there were no injuries or arrests; another confrontation took place on Mains Bridge, although police kept the groups apart.
In total there were 13 arrests, including of a 21-year-old man who fired a blank round at the PEGIDA protestors, and a woman who had an axe. The man may face charges.
Hours later a group of about 20 people torched a migrant centre in the city by throwing Molotov cocktails at it. Police Spokeswoman Iveta Martinkova said it was not clear who was behind the attack and that police are investigating, AP News has reported.
— InstaPrague (@InstaPrague) February 6, 2016
PEGIDA’s march in Dublin had to be called off and the demonstrators removed from the city for their own safety after a barrage of violent left wing demonstrators, many flying socialist flags, turned out to meet them.
Violent scuffles broke out between gardaí (police) dressed in riot gear and leftist crowds chanting “Off our streets Nazi scum,” while on O’Connell street a group of about ten young men, some of whom look to be teenagers were chased down the street by a large gang of leftists chanting “fascist scum”. It is not known whether the group of young men were actually Pegida demonstators.
The leader of PEGIDA Ireland, Peter O’Loughlin, was hospitalised due to injuries sustained in an attack by left wingers.
Dublin Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan was present at the counter-demonstration, where she told the crowd “We must also be extremely vigilant to the insidious creeping of racist policy into the mainstream.
“It is each and everyone of our responsibility to call out racism where and when we see it. That includes discriminatory policies against Travellers.”
People Before Profit, the Workers Solidarity Movement and Irish Muslim organisations were also part of the counter-demonstration, the Irish Times has reported.
— Rob McDonagh (@RobMcD) February 6, 2016
Pegida in Cathedral street Dublin. From 2:15 onwards garda just giving it socks lashing anyone he can get. https://t.co/jnzCTFgbZV
— Conor ☭ (@Conor42069) February 7, 2016
Pegida were also prevented from marching in Amsterdam thanks to the heavy presence of the left. They had originally planned to convene in a square outside Stopera, where City Hall is based. However, they were unable to do so as a suspicious package – later found to contain fireworks – was found at the square.
The Pegida demonstrators then tried to march but were prevented from doing so by police, including mounted police, NU.nl has reported.
As frustration built and the left continued to hurl abuse, violence broke out. 20 were arrested, the majority of whom were from the left wing counter-protest.
At 4.15pm police herded the PEGIDA demonstrators onto busses for their own safety and removed them from the city centre. The left wing were allowed to continue their counter-protest into the evening, playing live music and giving rally speeches from a stage.
According to the Telegraaf, left wing politicians were among those taking part in the counter-protest, including the Amsterdam Green Left leader Groot Wassink, who called Pegida “a gang of political hooligans led by Nazis.”
@TRobinsonNewEra pegida amsterdam taken hostige by leftwing faschist! no walking been kept in contained space for 3 hours!
— Love Gaia (@ElveTwelve) February 6, 2016
— Captain Holland (@CaptainHoIIand) February 6, 2016
By far the largest protest took place in Dresden, the home of PEGIDA, where some 8,000 people turned out to march along the banks of the river Elba. They were met by 2,000 counter-protestors including Saxony’s deputy premier.
See pictures from Dresden’s protest here.
The UK demonstration in Birmingham passed off peacefully thanks to careful forward planning which kept the protest and counter-protest out of sight from one another.
Among those addressing the crowd was Mohammed Fiaz, a Christian convert from Islam who spoke up about the persecution that apostates like him face from Muslims in the UK. “There’s one thing I want to say to the far left: where were you when people like me needed your help? People who have turned away from Islam who are being made a target”.
The crowd numbered approximately 300, with around 70 counter protestors.
PEGIDA leader Paul Weston said: “The next meeting we have is going to be double or treble the numbers. By the end of this year, and I’m been quite serious, I want to see 100,000 decent people on the street”.
Tommy Robinson said: “The growing influence Islam has on society is not good for society. The more Islam the less freedom, that’s a reality.”
See Breitbart London’s full coverage of yesterday’s events in Birmingham here.