FAR-RIGHT Islamophobes inspired by Germany’s Pegida organisation co-ordinated their hatred across Europe at the weekend.
Pegida (Patriotic Europeans United Against the Islamisation of the West) drew thousands to the east German city of Dresden, in which it was founded, while 5,000 turned out in the nearby Czech capital Prague for a Pegida-inspired march organised by two neonazi groups.
The Dresden marchers paraded along the banks of the river Elbe, many holding banners criticising Chancellor Angela Merkel for her decision to receive more than a million asylum-seekers last year.
But an anti-Pegida rally chanted slogans such as: “No space for nazis,” and: “We don’t need xenophobia, demagogy or Pegida.”
Mounted police charged pro-Pegida crowds, as well as their opponents — who outnumbered them — in the Dutch city of Amsterdam and arrested at least a dozen people.
“Refugees are welcome, fascists are not,” the anti-racist campaigners chanted.
Police detained four people at the march in Prague where the demonstrators’ banner slogans included: “Ban Islam in the Czech Republic,” “Close the border” and “Don’t let Brussels destroy our society.”
A counter-rally was organised by greens, communists and other left-wing groups. “
Migrants are people like us, which is why we have to help them in a reasonable way,” said Green Party president Matej Stropnicky.
However, he accepted the “impossibility” of integrating vast numbers in Europe, insisting that “we have to help them in their own countries.”
Another rally in the northern French port of Calais, home to the infamous Jungle camp for refugees seeking passage across the Channel to Britain, saw about 20 arrests after police used tear gas when scuffles broke out.
Pegida had called the EU-wide provocations, urging supporters to march under the anti-migrant banner of Fortress Europe.
Scuffles broke out in Dublin between people who had gathered for the launch of Pegida in Ireland and those who were protesting against it.
“We are standing together … to show that there is no place in Ireland today for racism and Islamophobia. There is no place for hate,” declared Sinn Fein MEP Lynn Boylan.
Pegida-inspired demonstrations took place in other European cities including Bratislava, Warsaw, Montpellier, Graz and Brno.