Tagged: anti-Islam

‘A united Newcastle’ is declared by those opposing Pegida’s first UK march

“Today we are a united Newcastle.”

Thousands of voices will be joined in unison to reject attempts by a controversial ‘anti Islam’ movement to spread their message to Tyneside.

Pegida, which claims it is trying to defend the UK from the spread of Islamic extremism, was due to hold its first British demonstration in Newcastle city centre on Saturday.

But a rapidly growing counter-demonstration, attracting in excess of 2,000 people, is expected to simultaneously march through the city centre in protest over Pegida.

The counter-demo has attracted a series of politicians, public figures, community leaders and activists.

Catherine McKinnell, MP for Newcastle North, today sent this message to Pegida:

“I am horrified you have decided to hold your first event in the UK in our fantastic city.

“But the event shows that vile views – which incite religious and racial hatred – will not be allowed to take root in Newcastle and the North East.

“Tyneside has a proud history of cultural diversity, multi-faith co-operation and mutual respect. That will continue long after Pegida have left. Hopefully – thanks to the huge swell of support from all participating – they will well and truly get the message that their message of hate will not take root here.”

 

North East Journalist, author and vice president of the European Muslim League, Yvonne Ridley, is also returning to her home city for the counter-demo.

Today she said:

“I love Newcastle. It’s a city of happy memories for me. It has been my home, workplace and playground. It’s the city where I became a mother and it is the city which is now educating my daughter, courtesy of the university.

“My ties with Newcastle are unbreakable. That the far right group Pegida has chosen here to stage its first march outside of Germany is beyond shocking and I will do everything in my power as a mother, trade unionist, peace activist and Geordie to make sure this visit is the last.

“The march is about Islamaphobia – the targeting of a group of people purely for their religious beliefs and who remembers the last time a religious group was persecuted in Europe?

“My 88-year-old widowed mother Joyce says she will travel from her home in County Durham with her friend to show her solidarity with Muslims across Britain. Why would she do such a thing for a group of people she’s never met? As she says her own father took up arms in the First World War and her husband in the Second World War, as well as many others in her family who paid the blood price so that millions could enjoy the sort of freedoms and liberties denied under fascist regimes.

“Make no mistake, those who invited Pegida to come to this great city have no love for the region or those who live here. First they play the nationalist card and then they try and link their evil ideology to mainstream issues in party politics, political communication and immigration.

“It is undeniable that huge swathes of our population genuinely feel abandoned by the government which seems to care more about protecting corporate business and the banksters, but these issues can only be sorted out through becoming politically engaged especially at the ballot box.

“Come and join me and my mum on Newcastle’s counter rally. It’s the right thing to do.”

The counter-demo has been organised by multi-cultural organisation Newcastle Unites.

 

Elswick Councillor Dipu Ahad, from Newcastle Unites, said:

“I hear so many people’s anger and frustration that Pegida are coming to Newcastle.

“I fully understand, however let us not hate Pegida, but pity them, but most importantly thank them, thank them for uniting us all, people from all backgrounds, race and religion

“This is the first time I’ve see so much unity, and this makes me proud to be a British Geordie Muslim, who’s elected to serve all, no matter who

“So let’s not disunite after possibly the biggest counter demo against hate the UK has seen, and let’s make this a platform to build on something great and eradicate all types of evil

“I urge you all to be part of something great, and this can only be achieved by our unity

“Saturday is the beginning of Pegida in the UK, and together we can ensure it’s the end of Pegida.”

The Pegida movement started in Germany but has reportedly launched a number of other European off-shoots in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris.

Gillian and Jim Anderton were both due to take part in the counter-demo.

Jim, 46, of Heaton, said:

“I was hoping this wouldn’t happen and Pegida would change their minds about coming.

“But the people of Newcastle will always come together for the good of the city. We are a united Newcastle.”

A spokesman for the Tyne and Wear Anti Fascist Association said:

“We are appalled at the presence of Pegida on the streets of Newcastle. We call upon the decent people of the North East to protest at the hateful and divisive racism of this organisation.”

Pegida demonstration

The following roads will be closed to allow for the demonstrations to take place:

The Bigg Market will be closed to traffic from around 10am. Pegida are due to hold their static demo at 11am.

A small section of Gallowgate will be closed from around 10:30am to 10:45am Newcastle Unites march begins.

A section of Newgate Street will be closed from 10:30am.

There are no plans to close Clayton Street or Grainger Street.

Officers say they may need to temporarily close other roads depending on activity, however they will look to re-open them as soon as possible and keep the city road network flowing.

Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 27 Feb 2015

Pegida Newcastle: Thousands due to flood streets for counter Pegida demo

Organisers of a counter-march against a planned “anti-Islam” demonstration in Newcastle say they are expecting more than 2,000 people to flood the city centre this Saturday.

Newcastle Unites say representatives from the Jewish, Sikh, Hindu, Christian and Islamic communities will unite in one voice against Pegida’s first UK demo, due to be held this weekend.

Under the banner of ‘Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the West’, Pegida claims it is trying to defend countries from the spread of extremism at the hands of Muslim immigrants.

This Saturday will be the first UK demonstration by the British branch of the organisation.

But counter demonstrators say they are expecting low numbers to turn out in support of Pegida.

Councillor Dipu Ahad, from Elswick and part of Newcastle Unites, said:

“Their Facebook page suggests more than 700 people have agreed to come but the reality is there will probably only be a couple of hundred.

“As far as they are concerned, it is looking as if it will be a bit of a damp squid.”

> Damp squid ?  I think he means damp squib.

Northumbria Police have met with both groups to discuss policing on the day.

Newcastle Chief Superintendent Laura Young said:

“It will be a busy day in Newcastle on Saturday with a number of events taking place and with lots of people coming into the city centre for things like shopping, socialising and the football.

“The city is a busy place on a Saturday anyway and with all of the extra things taking place then we are advising anyone who is thinking of driving into Newcastle to give themselves extra time and be aware of how their journey might be affected by the delays.

“To minimise disruption to the public we will have motor patrols officers out on the roads to ensure traffic flow and we will do everything we can to keep the roads open and to reduce the impact on the public.

“We have spoken with the local authority and local bus and travel companies about the road closures and we are looking to have all roads re-opened as soon as possible on Saturday.”

Councillor David Stockdale, Newcastle City Council’s Labour ward member for Blakelaw, will be one of the counter-demo’s speakers on the day.

He said:

“I will be talking about Newcastle and how it is a city of sanctuary; how it is a community with a proud and long history of standing up to injustice.

“I intend to tackle some of the brutal misrepresentations of Islam which Pegida paints. I think it’s important that a non-Muslim stands up and does that.

“I do wish Pegida were not coming on Saturday but I believe everyone has a right to express their views, no matter for distorted and wrong they are. The best way to deal with these kind of views is to challenge them.”

A public meeting by opponents of Pegida will be held at the city’s central library on Thursday. The event will take place at the Bewick Room at 6pm.

Journalist Yvonne Ridley, who converted to Islam after she was arrested in Afghanistan, will be speaking at the event along with Coun Ahad.

The meeting is intended for supporters of Stop the War Coalition and those who oppose Islamophobia and racism and begins at 6pm.

John and Jennifer Martin, of North Shields, are among those planning to take part in Saturday’s counter-demo.

Mr Martin, 36, a car showroom manager, said:

“My wife and I feel like we have an obligation to take part on Saturday because Newcastle is our home and we don’t want groups like this thinking they can come here and disrupt the harmony we have.

“I don’t know much about where Pegida have come from but I know we don’t want their messages spreading in the North East.”

On Saturday, the following roads will be closed to allow for the demonstrations to take place:

  • The Bigg Market will be closed to traffic from around 10am.
  • A small section of Gallowgate will be closed from around 10:30am to 10:45am Newcastle Unites march begins.
  • A section of Newgate Street will be closed from 10:30am.
  • There are no plans to close Clayton Street or Grainger Street.

Officers say they may need to temporarily close other roads on the day depending on activity, however they will look to re-open them as soon as possible and keep the city road network flowing.

Source –  Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 24 Feb 2015

Newcastle community leader threatened with ‘beheading’ after making a stand against Pegida

A community leader making a stand against an “anti-Islam” demonstration in Newcastle has received beheading death threats from a vile racist thug.

Councillor Dipu Ahad, a key figure in Tyneside’s Muslim community, told how he received a late-night anonymous call saying “you watch; going to kill you, you just watch.”

Mr Ahad, who says he has been the target of racist threats on a number of occasions, said:

“They called me calling me a Black f****** b******. They also said they would chop my head off as well as a f****** Muslim ****.”

The call came as Mr Ahad helped organise a counter-demonstration to Pegida UK’s first British demo, planned to take place in Newcastle city centre at the end of this month.

Now, fears are growing that the protest is attracting members of the region’s Far Right organisations, which Pegida claimed they were trying to “distance” themselves from.

Pegida said last week they planned a “peaceful” demonstration not associated with any extreme Far Right organisations.

Hundreds of people have already gone online to confirm attendance at the rally. The British arm of the highly-criticised German protest movement say their North East following is one of the reasons they will be coming to the city on February 28.

Now, in response, multi-cultural group, Newcastle Unites, chaired by Howard Dickinson, say they will be organising a counter-demo on the same day.

Councillor Ahad, spokesman for the group, said:

“We pride ourselves on the diversity of our communities and our mixed heritages. Newcastle Unites notes, however, an increase in racism, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in Britain and the rest of Europe. In particular a virulent Islamophobia movement known as ‘Pegida’ has emerged recently in Germany where it has been strongly condemned by politicians and faith leaders.

“We are aware that local racists are intent upon importing the ‘Pegida’ message into the UK and are organising an Islamophobic march through Newcastle.

“Newcastle Unites believe that such a development will only serve to stir up racism and division, undermine community cohesion and besmirch the name of Newcastle in the eyes of many in the UK and indeed around the world.

“We believe Pegida must be stopped from spreading their message of racist hate and intolerance and from getting a toe-hold in Newcastle and the UK.

 

“In the event of Pegida’s provocative march going ahead Newcastle Unites is committed to organising a vibrant, peaceful, multicultural and multi faith counter demonstration that will involve people from the widest possible backgrounds.

“The aim of the protest would be to send on clear and simple message that Pegida is not welcome in Newcastle. The people of Newcastle and the North East must all stand together in unity in the face of Islamphobia, anti Semitism and all other forms of racism and fascism.”

Councillor David Stockdale, from the Blakelaw ward, is backing the counter-demo.

 

He said:

“Pegida’s UK branch like to present themselves as reasonable and harmless. In planning their Islamophobic rally in Newcastle they claim to be operating completely independently of the usual extreme-right gang who frequent EDL and National Front demonstrations in the region.

“Nothing could be further from reality. A simple search of their Facebook and Twitter profiles reveal the truth. It’s the same people pedaling the same racist hate under a different banner.

“When I confronted Pegida about this they blocked me from commenting on Facebook and Twitter but the North East EDL seemed to take exception at being challenged. They spent much of the weekend cowering behind their anonymous Twitter account trying their best to intimidate me with not-so-subtle threats. I don’t encourage anyone to engage online with these bullies and I should have followed my own advice by ignoring them.

“I am fully behind the counter-demonstration being organised by Newcastle Unites. This is a broad Coalition of the Left who are coming together to stand up and speak out against Islamophobia, racism and intolerance.

“We will be standing shoulder to shoulder with Newcastle Unites in opposing the intolerant views of Pegida if they descend on our city. I encourage anyone who can to come along to the counter demonstration.”

 

Under the banner of ‘Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the West’, Pegida claims it is trying to defend countries from the spread of extremism at the hands of Muslim immigrants.

Since the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris, dozens of Pegida chapters have popped up online, prompting some reports that the group is establishing a bigger presence across Europe.

Plans for the counter demo came on the day MPs warned social media users who spread racial hatred could be banned from sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

An All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into anti-Semitism wants prosecutors to examine whether prevention orders like those used to restrict sex offenders’ internet access could be used.

Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 09 Feb 2015

Newcastle could see first demo of European racist group Pegida

A notorious European ‘anti-Islam’ movement says it will hold its first British demo in Newcastle.

Pegida has sparked huge controversy in Germany.

Under the banner of ‘Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the West’, it claims it is trying to defend countries from the spread of extremism at the hands of Muslim immigrants.

It brought 25,000 to the streets of Dresden in demos backing its cause.

But it also sparked huge counter demos, with 100,000 protesting against its stance.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has described it as racist, and Pegida’s leadership was said to be in crisis with “massive hostility, threats and career disadvantages” causing five of its senior members to step down after its founder was pictured dressed as Adolf Hitler.

It is advertising its first ever UK demo for Newcastle on February 28, the Mirror has reported.

It is the first of a series of demos planned for the UK, with others due to take place in Manchester, Birmingham and London.

Northumbria Police has yet to be notified about the event.

 

Pegida’s UK spokesman told the Mirror:

“We do not want to attract extremists to this rally.

“We are against radical Islam, hate preachers and believe Muslims need to adapt to our way of life in the West instead of us adapting to them.

“We do not want to do anything illegal and we will liaise with the police over this even if it means delaying the march by a week or two.

“We expect anywhere from 500 to 3,000 people for our first rally, and could then move on to London, Manchester and Birmingham.

“We chose Newcastle as neutral ground. This is a new and peaceful movement, and we do not want to get into any racist, right wing stuff.

> Well that’ll confuse the home-grown right wing loonies… are they supposed to support it or not ?

“This is against extremism. If we can get 300 terrorists out of the UK, then as far as we are concerned that is a step in the right direction.”

Northumbria Police said they had not been contacted by the organisers of the February 28 event.

The group has also held its first march in Austria, where it attracted a few hundred supporters.

Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 05 Feb 2015

Middlesbrough man one of 50 jailed for part in huge EDL rally in Birmingham

A Middlesbrough man is one of 50 behind bars after violence flared at a huge EDL rally.

Kenneth Graham, aged 20, of Ottawa Road, Longlands, Middlesbrough was ordered to spend 26 months behind bars for violent disorder, after the mass protest in Birmingham City Centre on July 20, 2013.

Over the past five weeks, 50 people have appeared at Birmingham Crown Court – and were sentenced for a combined 75 years on Friday.

Most of the violence took part in Birmingham’s Centenary Square, and sparked a massive inquiry from detectives from West Midlands Police criminal investigation department to track down those who brought violence to the streets.

Operations were conducted across the Midlands and further afield to arrest those believed to be involved in the disorder.

Those sentenced came from across England.

Others from the North East include Thomas Milner, 21, of Herbert Street, Darlington, who was jailed for 16 months for violent disorder.

Sentencing for Michael Wilson, aged 20, of Arkley Crescent in Hartlepool was adjourned until 30 January.

Detective Chief Inspector Simon Wallis, who led the nationwide hunt to bring the rioters to justice, said:

“Many lives have been affected by the actions of the rioters on that day. The people who took part in the riots in Birmingham have had their lives turned upside down and so have their families.

“These men now have to spend a period of time in custody away from their families paying the price for their actions. Some family members never even knew their loved ones had been arrested and were facing time in prison.

“These people travelled to Birmingham on July 20 2013 intent on causing violence in the heart of the city. The sentences given of more than 75 years in total sends out a clear message to people intent on causing trouble.”

Around 20 arrests were made in total on the day, with supporters of both factions detained for public order offences.

An appeal on BBC’s Crimewatch in January 2014 led to people identifying themselves to police, while members of the public also contacted officers to give information on the culprits.

Smoke bombs, cobble stones, bottles and coins were hurled at police as the English Defence League and their opponents descended on Birmingham city centre for simultaneous demonstrations.

One policeman suffered concussion during scuffles with protesters while other demonstrators were left bloodied by missiles and clashes with police.

An estimated 2,000 EDL supporters turned up, chanting hate-filled, anti-Islam slogans.

About 300 people – some wearing balaclavas – from Unite Against Fascism and other groups turned out for their counter-demonstration.

More than 1,000 police officers from the West Midlands and other forces had been drafted in to keep the groups apart.

Source –  Middlesbrough Evening Gazette,  12 Jan 2015