NEWCASTLE, England (Reuters) - Around 2,000 people protested on Saturday in Newcastle, northeast England, against a march held by the British branch of Germany’s anti-Islam group PEGIDA which drew up to 400 people, a Reuters witness said.
Northumbria police, which kept the two protests apart, said five people were arrested for alleged offences from assault to being drunk and disorderly, but that largely both demonstrations passed without any problems.
The German organization ‘Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West’ (PEGIDA), has for months been warning that Germany was being overrun by Muslims and held marches mostly in the city of Dresden.
It has tried to spread to other cities and countries with limited success. Although in Britain the local branch has had little exposure in the national media, the Facebook page of PEGIDA United Kingdom shows it has had over 17,000 “likes”.
Fears that anti-Islam sentiment is growing in Britain have intensified as violence by Islamist militants in the Middle East dominate the headlines and after actual and threatened attacks in Europe.
Some Islamic groups have criticized the British authorities’ response to the threat from militants, saying it has demonized Britain’s 2.7 million Muslims.
Reporting by Peter Nicholls; Writing by Neil Maidment; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky and Stephen Powell