Tagged: Northumbria Police

Wearside ; more anti-UKIP action

> UKIP’s intention of becoming the people’s party  in the North East doesn’t seem to be going too well.

First one of their Newcastle candidates managed to upset both Jewish and Muslim voters in less than a week. Then their office in Blyth was targeted.

Now reports of more grassroots action on Wearside…they could be excused for thinking someone doesn’t like them much….

UKIP have hit out at vandals who tore down advertising hoardings and attacked a home, accusing them of an “attack on free speech”.

Party officials say six incidents  have been reported to police in the space of one week in Hetton, Houghton, Newbottle and East Rainton.

It started on Tuesday, April 14, when a 4ft by 4ft board was stolen from a residential garden in South Street, East Rainton.

Then, on Saturday, the acts took a more sinister turn when a Wesleyan Chapel – converted into a home in Front Street, Hetton – was attacked.

 Two children were asleep inside when a window was smashed by vandals who also tore down another 4ft by 4ft Ukip board.

On Sunday, a board on private land at Grasswell was sawn down.

It was replaced on Monday, this time only lasting half an hour before being chopped down again.

On Tuesday, two boards were stolen from a private field at the junction of Murton Lane and Colliery Lane.

The party’s parliamentary candidate for Houghton and Sunderland South, Richard Elvin, said:

“Our parents and grandparents, many of whom gave their lives, fought to preserve our democracy and the right to free speech.

“It appears that many people, especially those who describe themselves as left wing, seek to deny these hard-won freedoms.

“UKIP supporters do not invade private property or steal or vandalise other political parties’ promotional material.

“We appreciate that people have different political views to ours and we show due respect, which is the way everyone in a civilised democracy should behave.

“There is no place for intimidation, theft or damage in a British society, against anyone who does not agree with your personal political beliefs.”

Chief Inspector Sarah Pitt, of Northumbria Police, said:

“Police take any incidents of criminal damage very seriously.

“We have been made aware of a number of incidents in the Sunderland area regarding advertising boards being damaged or removed.

“We are working closely with the victims to carry out a full investigation.

“I would ask anyone who may have any information about these incidents to contact police.”

Also standing in the parliamentary election for Houghton and Sunderland South are Stewart Hay (Conservative), Jim Murray (LibDem), Bridget Phillipson (Labour) and Alan Robinson (Green Party).

Source – Sunderland Echo, 24 Apr 2015

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Threat to behead Newcastle UKIP parliamentary candidate probed by police

Police are investigating a threat to behead a UKIP election candidate after the 62-year-old reported a disturbing phone call.

David Robinson-Young, a 62-year-old barrister who hopes to be elected to represent the Newcastle East constituency, has said he fears for his personal safety after the “chilling” experience.

He described the man as an “irate” constituent who he says identified himself as a Muslim and angry with the Government.

He said the man was initially calm but after some minutes began to shout and swear at which point the former policeman hung up.

Mr Robinson-Young said:

“He said the Muslim community is really annoyed with the British government supporting bombing Muslim countries and that the community here just wants to get on with their family lives.”

UKIP's Blyth headquarters vandalised a second time
UKIP’s Blyth headquarters vandalised a second time

Mr Robinson-Young said the man swore at him before making the beheading threat.

Northumbria Police confirmed they had received a complaint and are investigating the matter.

Mr Robinson-Young added:

“I’m not a man who is easily intimidated, I’m an ex-policeman and I’ve been subjected to numerous physical threats in the past. I left the police service because of injuries received in an assault on duty.

“I found this man’s threats to be particularly chilling and it as really shaken me. However I will not let this incident prevent me from continuing in the campaign to try and change our country for the better.”

> How very ironic – it’s only a few days since Robinson-Young was coming under fire from Newcastle’s Jewish community for his party’s xenophobic policies. UKIP certainly seem to be uniting the local population.

See: https://unemployedtynewear.wordpress.com/2015/04/21/newcastles-jewish-community-heckle-ukip-parliamentary-candidate-for-xenophobic-views/

Meanwhile, the UKIP campaign office in Blyth has vandalised this week for the second time.

Crosses and the word ‘No’ were daubed on to the shutters of the office.

Jonathan Arnott, North East UKIP MEP, said:

“This is now the second time that anti-democracy protesters have vandalised our office in Blyth.

“Sadly some people don’t respect our fundamental British freedoms.

“This comes at a time when some of our candidates have received death threats, showing the ugly face of some of those who oppose our message of freedom, independence and democracy.

“Ultimately this kind of criminal activity will prove counterproductive as it will simply spur our activists on to work harder and campaign for longer.”

Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 23 Apr 2015

Labour party banner binned in ‘litter pick’ by rival’s group

A councillor has come under fire from political rivals ahead of this May’s elections after she binned a banner belonging to an opposition party.

Houghton and Sunderland South Labour Party group launched its campaign in Houghton earlier this month, with a banner put in place on railings at the town’s Rectory Park.

However, just hours later, the banner had disappeared, with a member of the public contacting police to say she had seen it being cut down by independent councillor Sheila Ellis, who serves Houghton ward,

Coun Ellis said that the item was removed as part of a weekly litter pick by the Friends of Rectory Park group, and added that she had tried to find the owners of it.

 Police have since confirmed that the banner had been taken down and put into a bin, because it was thought the banner was “discarded property”.

Labour officials are upset that the banner has not been found and are calling on Coun Ellis to reimburse the cost of it,

Leslie Scott, parliamentary and local government election agent for Labour and a former mayor of Sunderland, todaysaid:

“I find it hard to remember such high-handed behaviour of an elected member in the 50 years of involvement in local politics.

“If she felt so strongly about the banner being on the railings for a matter of hours, she could have taken it down and returned it to us, rather than destroying it.

“Mrs Ellis may have great pride in Rectory Park, but she is not park ranger or the sole custodian of the park.

“Furthermore, we learn that her own group displayed posters on the railings at Christmas advertising an event.

“Yards from her home the council has a large banner on the footbridge over the A690.

“The banner cost £40 and should be replaced by Coun Ellis.

“We are advised removing and destroying of the banner can be viewed as separate acts.

“The latter may give us the opportunity to seek legal redress, but this is an avenue we don’t want to pursue.

“Some of my colleagues have suggested she be referred to the Standards Board that monitors the conduct of councillors.

“However, I personally will settle for the banner being replaced.”

In response, Coun Ellis said:

“We do a litter pick twice a week and always remove advertisements that are left in the park, or on the railings.

“This was an abandoned advertisement and there was nobody around to claim it.

“We walked up and down Newbottle Street, Sunderland Street and even the Wild Boar pub, but there were no Labour people around.

“There are often banners put up for events like exercise classes or pizza places and we remove them if the people who have put them there haven’t.

“If we put adverts up then we take them down ourselves.”

A spokesman for Northumbria Police said:

“On Tuesday, March 17, police received a report that a banner had been stolen from Rectory Park, in Broadway, Houghton.

“Inquiries were carried out and it was established that the banner had been taken down as it was thought it had been left as discarded property.

“Police updated the person who made the initial report and they no longer wish to report it as a crime.”

Source –  Sunderland Echo,  25 Mar 2015

Nine arrests at Newcastle far right march

Nine people were arrested at a neo-Nazi demonstration held in the North-East over the weekend.

National Action held its White Man March on the Quayside in Newcastle on Saturday.

The far-right white supremacist group has an openly racist agenda and supports the National Socialism movement founded in Germany in 1920 by Adolf Hitler.

Footage posted online shows members, many covering their faces, burning flags, giving Nazi salutes and chanting ‘Hitler was right’.

Northumbria Police said the demonstration attracted about 100 le with around 70 people on a counter demonstration nearby.

The demonstrations started at around 2pm and lasted for two hours.

Nine people were arrested for public order offences including inciting racial hatred.

Assistant Chief Constable Winton Keenen said:

“The majority of people attending this event did so peacefully. However, there were a number whose behaviour was unacceptable resulting in nine people being arrested.

“We simply will not tolerate people engaging in behaviour that could negatively impact on our communities and will take positive action against those who do.

 “We have an excellent relationship with our vast and diverse communities with great community cohesion, not just in Newcastle but across the force area.

“I’d like to thank the local community and businesses for their cooperation during the events.”

Source – Northern Echo, 23 Mar 2015

From North East Anti-Fascists

 National Action and British Voice came out with a heavy internet fuelled white power violence vibe, all of the usual ludicrous master race bullshit. This was their set piece event, their burst for hegemony on the far right and they were humiliated (they know it and we know it).

Their rag taggle assembly of misfits was only able to operate through the protection of the police, while NEAF/antifa were mobile, autonomous and democratically organised.

We had the streets, the White Man March did not happen along its designated route, they did not pass! No Pasaran!

No arrests for us, nine for them and many more stories from a great day will doubtlessly emerge. The fundamentals are that class struggle politics in the North East is slowly reasserting itself. We have some beautiful, talented and brave working class people around us and an adventurous, yet serious approach.

https://www.facebook.com/events/1404810419821473/

Far-right website RedWatch calls for information on anti-Pegida marchers

Police are monitoring a “disturbing” “neo-Nazi” website called RedWatch after images of anti-Pegida protestors were posted alongside a request for information.

Newcastle MP Chi Onwurah is among the people pictured after she spoke at a rally against an anti-Islam demonstration in the city.

The site – run by a far-right group not directly connected to Pegida – brands protestors “degenerates”, claims they were involved in violence and calls on people to provide personal data.

It is believed RedWatch has links to the paramilitary group Combat 18 and many featured on the site fear their names and addresses could be shared with dangerous individuals.

Chi confirmed she was reporting the matter to police, adding:

“The reference to illegal activities appears defamatory as well as an incitement and to call me degenerate and say I was making death threats – which is absolutely untrue – would also appear to incite people to take aggressive action.”

She added: “I think it is disturbing and I have asked the police to keep me informed.”

Pegida marchers, who claim they are trying to defend countries from the spread of extremism at the hands of Muslim immigrants, were outnumbered in Newcastle by counter-demonstrators at a rate of more than five to one. People are calling on Northumbria Police to take action on RedWatch.

Newcastle University student Gary Spedding, another anti-Pegida marcher whose picture features on the site, said:

“I was shocked to discover the website known as RedWatch.

“The police informed me that my image, and those of a number of others that I know personally, had recently been uploaded to this neo-Nazi site following Newcastle Unites highly praised and successful rally against Pegida in Newcastle last month.

“The modus operandi of RedWatch, uploading images of anti-fascist individuals and groups in order to identify them and gather our personal details including telephone numbers and home addresses, is something I find to be sinister, creepy and potentially criminal.

“Publishing the image, personal details and contact number of individuals with implied intent to incite violence against them is possibly a breach of the Electronic Communications Act (2000).

“RedWatch is a far-right platform with strong ties to a paramilitary group known as Combat 18 – the publishing of personal details on the website has previously resulted in actual violence towards people at their home addresses and even death threats to elected representatives, including members of parliament and their families.

“I would urge those who may have had their images and personal details uploaded to the website to be vigilant and report the website – along with any out of the ordinary occurrences such as no caller ID phone calls – to the police as soon as possible.”

A spokeswoman for Northumbria Police said:

“We have been made aware of this website and are currently making inquiries into this matter.”

The people who run the site use this introduction:

“This is a site designed and intended for people who are involved in the struggle against the spread of Marxist lies in the UK.”

> Nothing actually new – RedWatch has published photos and requested info on protestors at protests in Newcastle and Sunderland before. 

Though undoubtedly they are sinister, creepy and potentially criminal.

Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 13 Mar 2015

Northumberland charity accuse UKIP of ‘sabotaging’ youth event

UKIP has been accused of attempting to “sabotage” a charity event intended to get young people interested in politics.

Northumberland youth charity Leading Link blamed the UK Independence Party for its decision to reschedule a Question Time-style event.

And the charity said police were even drafted in to cover a replacement event on Thursday night, in case of disruption.

The question-and-answer event has been held by the Bedlington-based charity for the last four years, and sees a debate between local schoolchildren, members of the public and guests.

It was due held at County Hall in Morpeth on Thursday, and young people had invited representatives from the Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Labour parties to attend.

UKIP were not invited, which the party claimed was “undemocratic”.

Leading Link said it was contacted by a string of regional and national UKIP representative demanding to know why the party had not been invited, with one claiming the charity was contravening various acts.

Charity bosses say they explained that attendees had been selected by the young people and made it clear the event was not linked to May’s general election.

But then, the charity says, several tickets were acquired online in the names of local UKIP figures.

And the organisers took the decision to postpone the event until after the general election.

In place of the cancelled event, a replacement just for the young people was organised with just the current Wansbeck MP, Labour’s Ian Lavery.

And the charity said it had arranged for Northumbria Police to attend, in case of any disturbance.

Charity assistant manager Jonny Hall said:

“The reason why we were holding it was to give these young people a real experience of debating and making a positive change.

“Because we now feel that the spirit would be completely lost and it became a politically-motivated campaign, we have since cancelled it and moved to this closed session instead.

“The whole thing has been completely blown out of proportion. The fact a school debate is having to be cancelled speaks volumes.”

Mr Lavery hit out at UKIP for “jeopardising” the chances of young people getting engaged in politics.

He added: “Lyn (Horton, charity manager) said she has never known anything like this. It is sad we have not had the original event.”

The media officer for UKIP’s Wansbeck branch, said it was “blatantly untrue” to claim the event was not political given the attendance of the other parties.

Why invite three politicians? And how do you educate the young people if you do not invite all political views?” he said. “It is totally undemocratic.”

He added:

“I think they have cancelled because they knew we would get it advertised to the public in Wansbeck. We had kicked up a bit of a fuss.”

Asked if anyone from UKIP would be attending the event, he added: “Nobody knows where it is.

Northumbria Police confirmed that officers were attending. A spokesperson said:

“Members of the Neighbourhood Policing Teams regularly attend community events to continue to build on the strong links already in place.”

Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 05 Mar 2015

Anti-racist Newcastle councillor Dipu Ahad sent mocked-up image showing him being beheaded

Councillor and anti-racism campaigner Dipu Ahad received vile online beheading threats in the hours leading up to demonstrations on Tyneside.

Police are today probing pictures tweeted to the Elswick ward representative.

The images show Coun Ahad’s face superimposed onto the body of a man kneeling before a masked knifeman, as if he was about to be decapitated.

They were posted on Twitter just hours before German anti-Islam group Pegida held its first UK demonstration in Newcastle, alongside a counter-march by Newcastle Unites.

Coun Ahad said the author of the post had since apologised to him via Twitter after receiving condemnation by other users of the social media site.

And he has vowed not to let the troll’s actions put him off standing up for what he believes in.

But the father has admitted he is now living in constant fear for the safety of himself and his family.

Coun Ahad said:

“This was a direct threat on my life. I fear for my physical safety every day now. I’m always looking over my shoulder. But I’m not going to stop fighting for what is right. I’m not going to be intimidated.”

 

Muslim Coun Ahad, a life-long campaigner against racism and intolerance, was busy putting the finishing touches to Newcastle Unites’ march plans when the picture surfaced on Friday evening.

It appears to be an image of a masked Islamic State fighter holding a large knife above a hostage in an orange T-Shirt, with the councillor’s face photoshopped on to the condemned victim’s body.

Coun Ahad reported the incident to police immediately and officers are now investigating, while taking steps to look after the safety of Coun Ahad and his family.

“When my cat jumps around at night now I have to get up and check there is no one there,” he said.

“I’m more scared for my family’s safety than I am for my own. Every time I go out I am very cautious, I’m always on edge now.”

A Northumbria Police spokeswoman said:

“At 7.20pm on Friday police received information regarding a malicious communication having been received via a social media site. Enquiries are ongoing and steps were taken to ensure the safety of those concerned.”

And Coun Ahad said Saturday’s events have confirmed his belief that he must continue to stand-up to hatred and prejudice, even if it means putting himself at risk.

“It is getting to the point now where you wonder whether it will ever stop,” he said.

“But I now believe it will only stop either if I shut my mouth, or if I’m dead. This is obviously just part of my life now.

“Saturday was absolutely amazing. So many people came together from different groups. It was so humbling. I’m so passionate about our communities.

“Getting threatened is not going to stop me. At least this has started a conversation and it’s opened up communication.”

Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 02 Mar 2015

Newcastle : Thousands turn out as counter-march outnumbers Pegida protest five to one

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.

Newcastle: ‘Stay out of our city’ Final message to Pegida ahead of Tyneside demo

You are not welcome in our city.

That was the overriding message from residents, community leaders, political parties and union bosses just 24 hours before an “anti-islam” protesters arrive in Newcastle city centre.

Under the banner of ‘Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the West’, Pegida supporters will be taking to Tyneside’s streets amid claims they are trying to defend countries from the spread of extremism at the hands of Muslim immigrants.

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

A growing counter-demonstration, now expected to attract in excess of 2,000 people, will simultaneously march through the city centre in protest over Pegida.

The counter-demo, organised by Newcastle Unites, is also aiming to attract a string of high profile speakers including George Galloway MP.

 

Police said they were fully prepared to cope with the extra influx of people into the city centre just hours before Newcastle United kick off their home match against Aston Villa.

Today, opponents to Pegida made one final rallying call.

David Stockdale, councillor for Blakelaw, who will also be speaking at the meeting, said:

“Newcastle is a friendly, tolerant and inclusive city of sanctuary. We thrive on the diversity of our communities which make our city one of the truly great cities of the world.

“We have a proud history of standing up to intolerance and hate and to groups like Pegida who seek to do harm to our Muslim sisters and brothers.

“Pegida paint a brutal misrepresentation of Islam. It’s important to stand up to that and for me as a non-Muslim it’s important to speak out against Pegida’s twisted prejudice.

“The Newcastle Unites counter-demonstration will show Newcastle at its best. Islamophobia targets Muslims but it hurts us all and I’m so proud of how our wonderful city has come together to march in peace and solidarity against Pegida and everything they stand for”.

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.

Jeremy Beecham, former leader of Newcastle City Council, said:

“This city has a deserved reputation for welcoming people and for good relations between the communities which enrich its life.

“It has welcomed the contribution made by people from a variety of cultures across a range of activities, from the NHS to St James’s Park. Pegida is an extreme right wing movement driven by hatred of Muslims, on whom they have focussed their resentment for problems they perceive in Germany.

“Their Islamophobia is totally unacceptable, and it’s difficult to understand why Newcastle has been singled out for their malign attention. I hope the people of this city will unite to reject the message of division which they seek to bring to our streets.”

David Kelly, 33, from Newcastle, will be part of the counter-demo.

He said: “We don’t want these people in our city. They don’t belong here. We are a friendly, tolerant and welcoming place.”

Pegida claim to have chosen Newcastle for their first UK march due to having already established a following in the city.

 

Chi Onwurah,  Newcastle MP, said:

“We are a city of diverse communities and shared values where we both respect and look out for each other. We have a history of facing hard times together and growing stronger.

“People coming from outside to spread a message of division and hatred are not welcome. Pegida is targeting Muslims in our community and we have to stand up and say it is wrong, Islamaphobia is wrong, anti semitism is wrong, all racism is wrong, we can do better than this, we have done better than this when we saw off the National Front and the BNP.

“The idea that there might be children in Newcastle who feel unwelcome or unappreciated because of the religion they practise I find absolutely obscene. That is why I’ll be there on Saturday.”

Police say they have had open dialogue with parties from both demonstrations and say they are satisfied the demos will pass “peacefully”.

Chief Superintendent Laura Young, from Northumbria Police, added:

“I have had guarantees from both organisations that this will be a peaceful demonstration.

“People should not be put off coming into the city centre on Saturday. People will still want to come shopping, there is a football match on in the afternoon and people will be coming for other events.

“I would just say that they should give themselves some extra time to get in and out of the city centre as there have been some road closures.”

The march, which will begin at 10.30am, has attracted national, and international interest.

Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 26 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