New Castle, 12 Jumadil Awwal 1436/3 March 2015 (MINA) – Thousands of anti-fascists, trade unionists and faith representatives have rallied on Saturday against another demonstration by Pegida far-right group, rejecting their rhetoric for spurring anti-Muslim violence.
“They’re a confused bunch of people. They think Newcastle is an easy target, but it’s not,” Dipu Ahad, a local councillor and one of the organisers of the Newcastle Unites event, told The Guardian, thanking Pegida for highlighting how united people in Newcastle are.
“We’ve seen so many different communities want to get involved against this hate. You see people united shoulder to shoulder – LGBT groups, feminist groups, men, women, children, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs,” On Islam quoted by Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA) as reporting.
On Saturday, February 28, Pegida UK held its first event in Newcastle, with some 375 supporters present in the city’s Bigg Market. The group, whose name translates as “Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the West”, was formed in Dresden last year and has held regular marches there.
A demonstration in the German city in January drew 25,000, but it is thought that recent marches have gathered as few as 2,000. Ahad’s statement was echoed by Tony Dowling, another organizer of Newcastle counter protest.
“It’s a simple message: you’re not welcome here. Get off our streets and go home,” he said to Pegida demonstrators.
On Wednesday night, Newcastle United Football Club supporters’ group have also rejected Pegida rally, releasing a statement saying that the city was “famous for its tolerance, integration and warmth of spirit”. Official results put the number of Muslims at nearly 2.7 million of the British people.
In 2011, think tank Demo found that Muslims in the United Kingdom are more patriotic than the rest of population.
Responding to the statement “I am proud to be a British citizen”, 83% of Muslims said they are proud of being British.
Reflecting a deep-rooted relationship, a synagogue in the northern British city of Bradford has appointed, this month, its first Muslim member, in a decision passed unanimously by its ruling body.
The counter-Pegida rally was attended by Respect MP George Galloway, Chi Onwurah, MP for Newcastle Central, and other politicians and faith leaders who gave speeches to demonstrators. “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,” Galloway said.
“The vast majority of British people respect that and the people who are on here on the counter-demonstration are representing millions.”
Onwurah added: “If you come here with hatred in your hearts, if you come here to spread fear and division, if you come here to tell us that our Muslim brothers and sisters are not a great positive part of this city, then I have a message for you – and that is: get out of our city.”
Attending the counter-rally, Kezra Shakir, 31, made her own banner with “Peace” written in different languages
The Muslim woman said that groups like Pegida made it more difficult to live as a Muslim in the UK. “I live with this fear every day. I have two young sons, two and four, and we gave them Arabic names.
“I worry for them. I worry for the way they may be treated.”
Muslims in Europe have been facing an increasing resentment after Paris attacks that left 17 killed, including two Muslims. The National Observatory Against Islamophobia said over one hundred incidents have been reported to the police since Charlie Hebdo attacks of January 7-9.
The rise in attacks over the last two weeks represents an increase of 110 percent over the whole of January 2014, the organization said on Monday. Moreover, a Muslim father was stabbed to death in his own home in southern France this week by a neighbor who claimed to be avenging Charlie Hebdo. Another Eritrean immigrant has been murdered in Germany’s Dresden.
Mosques in Sweden and Germany were also attacked following the attacks. (T/P011/P3)
Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)