Demonstrators against an anti-Islam march planned for Newcastle city centre have expressed concerns over the presence of maverick MP George Galloway.
It comes after Mr Galloway announced plans to join a counter demo in the city on February 28 against Pegida UK’s first British rally.
But in an open letter other counter demonstrators have highlighted concerns that the Respect MP’s “divisive public figure” is raising issues among those hoping to take a stand against Pegida.
Gary Spedding, 24, a human rights advocate and Northumbria University student, said in the letter:
“This is highly problematic for us wishing to attend and support the demonstration against Pegida.
“Whilst we appreciate organisers have made it clear that they are aware his politics are not agreeable with everybody who will be in attendance, we do believe there are vital aspects which have been overlooked.”
The letter, co-signed by Lizi Gray, Women’s Representative for Northumbria University, goes on to outline concerns over Mr Galloway’s stance on the Israeli-Palestine conflict, as well as his alleged past comments suggesting Julian Assange was accused of nothing more than “bad sexual etiquette”.
Mr Assange is currently wanted in Sweden to face allegations – which he denies – of sexual assault made by two women.
But the open letter has angered Mr Galloway who today said he planned to take action in relation to it.
“I’m extremely disappointed that two individuals with their own agenda, in a highly-defamatory letter over which I am taking action, are effectively undermining the opposition to Pegida.”
> Aint that what so often happens, though ? And all the people who aren’t pushing their own agendas but just, you know, think it right to protest against a right wing organization like Pegida, they just get fed up and don’t bother anymore.
The MP last week revealed plans to come up and be part of a counter-demonstration where he will stand “beside the hundreds of other anti-Fascists against this highly-provocative incursion by Pegida which can only be intended to stir up racial hatred.”
Pegida have said the are planning a “peaceful” demonstration not associated with any extreme Far Right organisations and picked Newcastle because they already had a number of followers from the area.
The counter demonstration, organised by multi-cultural organisation Newcastle Unites, is expected to include representatives from a number of anti-fascist organisations.
In the open letter, Mr Speding goes on to say:
“We hope that organisers will disinvite Mr Galloway, or if too late for a disinvitation, then at the very least consider not giving him a platform.”
> I, for one, hope they don’t.
Northumbria Police have now confirmed they have spoken to Pegida in relation to arrangements for the planned march.
A spokesman added:
“We have spoken to the organisers and they have informed us they plan to hold their event on February 28.
“We are aware there are also plans in place for counter events to be held in the city on the same day.
“We will now speak to all of those involved, our partners and our local communities and over the coming days agree on plans for the events.
“Northumbria Police respects the right to peaceful protest and takes a neutral standpoint, not supporting or endorsing any groups or individuals.
“Our role is to protect, reassure and support our communities as well as the safety of everyone – those attending any events, those protesting, the general public and those policing them.”
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 16 Feb 2015