Some chancers from the social media wing of the far-right decided they would attempt to cash-in on the recent Pegida bubble. Here’s what happened on their first National rally in the UK.
Words and pictures by our man in the field, DM.
Pegida UK got off to a bad start by arranging their first demo in Newcastle when the Toon were at home. The cops had their excuse to ban the march – unless Pegida held it at 9.30 in the morning – so it was demoted to a static rally at 11.00 on Saturday 28th February.
By 9.30 the police presence in Newcastle was already significant as preparations were made to ‘facilitate’ the far-right gathering.
After realising the planned BNP march from Monument to the rally site wasn’t going to happen, I walked down to the Bigg Market to find – with just 20…
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Newcastle stood united against hate as thousands of anti-Pegida protestors marched through the streets of the city yesterday.
The German “anti-Islamisation” group’s first visit to Britain was outnumbered by more than five to one as families, anti-fascists, trade unions, religious and community groups all turned out in opposition.
And though five people were arrested the potential powderkeg passed off relatively peacefully.
But Pegida have vowed Saturday was only its “first of many” appearances in the UK.
> And the first of many humiliating put-downs…. the standard has been set.
“I wish this hadn’t been necessary,” said Newcastle Central MP Chi Onwurah, who spoke at the counter protest.
“What we would have liked is for Pegida to have not picked our great city to march in in the first place.
“But to see people of all cultures and backgrounds, from across the political spectrum and including many football fans, turn out really showed that Newcastle is united against these outsiders.”
Official figures from Northumbria Police suggested 2,000 people had turned out for the Newcastle Unites counter protest, which marched from the gates of the city’s Chinatown, down Gallowgate before rallying before a stage on Newgate Street.
Among them was record dealer Adrian Farquhar, from Gateshead, and Katherine Reed, a carer, who said they felt it was important to show their son the importance of standing up to groups like Pegida.
“We came for our seven-year-old son,” Adrian said. “We can’t let these people like Pegida dictate the kind of world he grows up in.”
The demo was also attended by Respect MP George Galloway, a number of Newcastle councillors, Gateshead MP Ian Mearns, and German MEP Arne Lietz, who travelled from Gelsenkirchen.
“For me it was very important to show solidarity and that we are together as Europeans against hate,” said Arne.
“This Pegida protest will have attracted other groups or individuals who will have called themselves Pegida, but many of whom are right wing and nationalist, and who’s hate speak we don’t want to see in the European Union.
“I come from East Germany when I grew up we were singled out for being Christians under the Communist regime. I now want to ensure that we live in a fair Europe with the liberties denied to my own parents.”
George Galloway said:
“All right-thinking people in Britain condemn the idea of a German Nazi group coming to the North East of England trying to stir up trouble.
“The vast majority of British people respect that and the people who are on here on the counter-demonstration are representing millions.
“We have problems in Britain without racism and Islamophobia being further stoked.”
Gateshead MP Ian Mearns, who joined the counter-rally, said the number of people at the Newcastle Unites march was “fantastic.”
“It really shows the solidarity among the people of Newcastle and the North East, and from the perspective that the Pegida protest only had numbers in the low hundreds, and the counter protest had thousands it’s very encouraging,” he said.
“But what I can’t understand is among the Pegida rally there will have been British Nationalists demonstrating alongside proud Europeans – it doesn’t make sense.”
> Well, clear-thinking was never their strong point… or indeed thinking at all.
One hundred yards in front of them, on the other side of a large police cordon filled with scores of uniformed police and mounted officers, around 375 Pegida supporters congregated in the Bigg Market.
Among the German-founded group, which insists it is neither fascist or racist, banners supporting the English Defence League and National Front could be seen.
One male supporter said:
“This has nothing to do with race. It is about Islamification of our country and nobody is doing anything about it. We want people to integrate when they come here and that is not happening.
“When we bring up these issues we are called bigots and racists but we just want to protect our heritage.”
Speakers at the one-hour gathering, which called for an “end to Islamification of the west”, had called for a peaceful protest but some supporters attempted to break through the police line after the Bigg Market demo closed, and around 100 Pegida supporters formed a line at Grainger Street in an effort to goad those on the Newcastle Unites side.
However police officers and mounted units swiftly moved in to prevented further disorder.
> Meanwhile, Pegida tried to put a positive spin on their laughably pathetic turn-out by blaming – wait for it – transport problems, without which there would have been an extra thousand there, honest.
Pegida said: “Thank you all for the first peaceful Pegida rally in UK today!
“The early hour made us lose about 1,000 people that had booked transport for 1pm which was our goal.”
> Which suggests that the extra thousand would have been rent-a-mob bused in from elsewhere.
Though it does beg the question why – since the time of the demo was known for some time – they couldn’t change their travel times.
Of course, it’s more likely they never actually existed at all, and so the non-racist Pegida had to rely on the like of the EDL to boost their attendance to the heights of, er, 375.
The co-founder and leader of anti-Islamisation party Liberty GB has accepted an invitation by Pegida UK to be guest speaker at their planned demonstration in Newcastle.
German anti-Islamic group Pediga will hold its demonstration on Saturday, February 28, at 11am in the Bigg Market and protesters will gather there for speeches.
Paul Weston is best known for being arrested last April on the steps of Winchester Guildhall for quoting Winston Churchill.
Churchill once said of Islam, “No stronger retrograde force exists in the world”, and for repeating these words Weston was thrown into a police cell.
His political arrest was covered by the world’s media.
> Was it ? I don’t recall it at all.
Styling himself “a revolutionary” rather than a conventional politician, Weston achieved online notoriety for a viral video entitled, “My Name Is Paul Weston and I Am a Racist”, in which he argued that the Left smears patriotic Brits as ‘racists’ in order to neutralise popular opposition to Britain’s destruction via uncontrolled immigration and Islamisation.
He has described government immigration policy as “criminal and systematic race replacement of the native English.”
> And this is revolutionary thinking ? Nothing new there, just the same old bollocks.
Recently, Weston has spoken at several EDL rallies, including one outside Downing Street at which he condemned David Cameron as a “quisling, coward and traitor” for his refusal to address the alledged Islamic threat.
Liberty GB describes itself on Facebook as “a patriotic, anti-Islamisation party promoting Christian civilisation, Western freedoms and British culture”.
> Oh, surely not Christianity – an imported middle eastern religion sharing roots with Islam. By their own standards, Liberty X – sorry, Liberty GB – are dangerously close to being classed as traitors by their own definition. But I don’t suppose they do irony.
The Party’s policies include:
– complete halt to immigration
– death sentence for terrorism
– prohibit Muslims from holding public office
– deport all Muslims considered to be a threat, along with their families
– segregate Muslim prisoners within the prison system to prevent conversion of non-Muslims to Islam
– ban mosque-building, remove minarets from existing mosques, outlaw the Islamic call to prayer
– ban ritual slaughter of animals and importation of ritually slaughtered meat
– close all madrassas and Muslim faith schools
– close Muslim prayer rooms and Islamic centres on university campuses
Asked for his view of George Galloway and Russell Brand, due to lead a counter-demonstration in Newcastle, Paul Weston called the former “a despicable traitor” and the latter “an idiot”.
The counter rally by Newcastle Unites will meet in Gallowgate at around 10.30am, before walking a short distance to Newgate Street where they will hold their demonstration.
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 19 Feb 2015
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.
“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
Russell Brand has mocked EDL members who gatecrashed a Newcastle book group’s get together because they thought the ‘Revolution’ author was turning up.
Writing on Twitter, the stand up referred to the incident at Bar Loco on Leazes Park Road when he confirmed his attendance at another book signing in London.
He said: “‘@RBfanforum: Just to confirm, @rustyrockets will be signing books after the book reading’ Great. Now EDL know.”
It came after an incident in Newcastle when around 15 English Defence League supporters disrupted an event at Bar Loco with Islamophobic chants.
The men, who chanted ‘North East EDL’ and ‘No surrender to the Taliban’, arrived after being wrongly tipped off that Brand himself would be there.
But when the group – who were filming the whole event – realised Brand wasn’t coming, they began a series of foul mouthed chants.
In a reply to Brand’s tweet about the Southbank Centre event on Tuesday, North East EDL suggested there may have been trouble if the event hadn’t been in London.
The tweet said: “It’s ok, it’s not in the North East :-)”
EDL regional organiser Alan Spence said the group gatecrashed last week’s Newcastle meeting, which was due to be a peaceful, political discussion about the meaning of the word ‘revolution’, in retaliation for the disruption of one of their own events by left-wing activists.
He said: “The last time we had a North East meet and greet some of the left wing went down to the pub and abused the barmaid, prior to us getting there.
“So we thought it was time we returned the favour.
“Any left-wing organisation in the North East should expect a visit from the EDL if this happens again.
“If that’s the way they want it they can have it that way.”
Mr Spence said they saw the news Russell Brand would be there as an added bonus.
He said: “We went because there were going to be known activists that were going to be there and we got told Russell Brand was going to be there too. He’s a joke.
“I would love to give him a piece of my mind if I saw him.”
> I wouldn’t – you’ve not got enough to go giving bits away…
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 14 Jan 2015
> Well, this is a move that should sow confusion in the ranks of the stormtroopers !
While they shared the same city streets, their political ideologies were worlds apart.
But now a Muslim councillor has become the unlikely supporter of a rioting thug jailed after a violent far-right protest.
Anthony Webster, from Newcastle’s West End, is beginning a 21-month jail sentence after he and scores of other far-right supporters ran riot on the streets of Birmingham following a march through the city.
But today Coun Dipu Ahad, a passionate antifascism campaigner who has regularly publicly condemned such views, has revealed how he tried to help the yob turn his life around after meeting him and seeing his remorse.
And the Elswick councillor now feels he may have missed his chance to save Webster, and reach out to others through him.
“I was gutted he went to jail. I think he just got swept up in it all and didn’t know what he was getting himself into.
“I hope I can work with him when he gets out and show him what different communities are about. I really think he wants to change.”
Webster, of West Road, was among more than 50 people charged with violent disorder after attending an English Defence League (EDL) march in Birmingham on July 20, 2013.
After yobs ran riot in the city’s Centenary Square, hurling missiles and injuring a number of cops, a police operation stretching across the nation swung into action to trace those responsible.
And by last week 50 rioters had been jailed for a total of more than 75 years.
But as Webster awaited his fate at court he ran into Coun Ahad on the West Road.
“After we got chatting I realised he was genuinely remorseful,” said Coun Ahad.
“He said he wanted to learn more about other cultures and religions. I told him to call me if he ever needed anything.
“He told me no one had ever shown him any support, and about three or four days after he gave me a call and we chatted.
“After speaking to me I think he realised that I’m a human being, like anyone else. I think he began to realise that Muslims are not bad people.
“He also assured me that he will withdraw his membership from any far right groups and will not partake in any demos in the future.”
Coun Ahad was so moved by 38-year-old Webster’s remorse and desire to make amends, he even wrote a letter to the sentencing judge asking him to consider giving Webster a chance – despite the criticisim he knew that might attract.
“I thought I would get a lot of backlash from people that have been fighting racism and fascism for a lot of years,” he said.
“But I was convinced that he wanted to change.
“So I explained why I was doing it and that he was a human being too.
“Some far-right group members might have racist values but that’s because of ignorance. If you can speak to these people a lot of them will change their ways.”
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 13 Jan 2015
Had the Newcastle book club scene become an illicit den of Islamic Fundamentalism? Was it all a cover for a Jihadist training camp?
Honestly, you couldn’t make this stuff up. How am I supposed to tut-tut at those who lazily dismiss the EDL as thickoes when they pull stupid shit like this?
Here’s the original report from the Newcastle Evening Chronicle… http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/watch-edl-gatecrash-russell-brand-8433737
A Sunderland man has been jailed for taking part in violence at an English Defence League protest.
Stuart Snowball, 24, was one of dozens of troublemakers who were arrested after trouble flared during a rally of the far right group in Birmingham in 2013.
Fifty men have appeared before Birmingham Crown Court over the past five weeks to be sentenced for violent disorder after ugly scenes were witnessed by police and visitors on July 20, 2013.
The court heard how trouble flared within factions of the 2,000 strong crowd with missiles thrown at police.
A number of officers suffered minor injuries as they tried to restore order amongst the violent minority.
West Midlands Police launched an investigation to trace those responsible by studying CCTV footage and appearing on the BBC’s Crimewatch.
Now the EDL yobs have been jailed for a total of more than 75 years with sentences ranging from community orders to three years and eight months prison.
Snowball, of Howarth Street, Sunderland, has been jailed for 13 months.
Source – Sunderland Echo, 13 Jan 2015
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