More than 2,000 people gathered to counter demonstrate against Pegida’s Newcastle protests.
This was the first UK rally for Pegida, the German right-wing political organization, who oppose what they call the ‘Islamisation’ of the West.
The counter demonstration was held by Newcastle Unites which was supported by a number of councillors, trade unionists and religious groups.
Northumbria Police said more than 2,000 people joined Newcastle Unites, successfully overshadowing by five to one against Pegida’s mere 375.
Pegida held their demonstration in the Bigg Market area in Newcastle city centre, while Newcastle Unites marched from Gallowgate to Newgate Street where they held their protest. Lines of police officers separated the two groups.
John Samas, a member of Pegida said: “We have said from the start that this protest will be peaceful.
“There was a bit of trouble when some members of a far-right group tried to get involved with the protest in a violent way but we want people to know that racists are not welcome here.”
Northumbria police claim that while five arrests were made, these were isolated incidents and both protests passed peacefully.
Newcastle Chief Superintendent Laura Young said: “The vast majority of those that took part in today’s events were peaceful and both groups stuck to their agreed times, routes and plans.
“Disruption was kept to a minimum in the city centre and we are very grateful for the assistance and patience shown by the public and those in Newcastle this morning.”
Paul Mason from Lancashire travelled to Newcastle for the Pegida demonstration. He said: “I take part in a number of protests against extreme Islam and thought I’d check this out. It is worth travelling for because Islam is a big threat and the fact that people don’t realise that is worrying.”
Respect MP George Galloway, who spoke at the Newcastle Unites protest, claimed Pegida, who’s German acronym stands for Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West, are a vicious and vile organisation.
Niamh Bradford from Newcastle joined the Newcastle Unites protest. She said: “It is so nice to see so many people uniting against racism and supporting equality.
“When you look at how many people are here compared to how many people are at the Pegida protest it shows just how successful we have been.”