07:46 GMT +321 September 2019
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    Newcastle United Against Anti-Islam UK Pegida Demo

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    'You are not welcome in our city' - the message from people living in a north England city where far right extremist group Pegida intends to gather.

    Newcastle’s community leaders, political leaders and residents say the group is not welcome in their city centre. It would be the first demonstration in the UK by the British members of the so-called "anti Islam" organisation.

    Protesters take part in an anti-racism demonstration against the anti-immigration movement Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West (PEGIDA) in Duesseldorf, January 12, 2015
    © REUTERS / Ina Fassbender

    Using Facebook to announce news of their first rally, Pegida supporters are travelling to Tyneside to, in their opinion, 'defend countries from the spread of extremism at the hands of Muslim immigrants'. In a recent interview, their spokesman said: "We are against radical Islam, hate preachers and believe Muslims need to adapt to our way of life in the West".

    Pegida, which stands for Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the West, has been met with controversy in Germany where recent demonstrations were met with swathes of anti-fascist protestors.

    Meanwhile ahead of the rally in Newcastle, the number of counter-demonstrators is growing. Over 2000 people will simultaneously march through the city centre in protest over Pegida’s presence.

    Organisers, Newcastle Unites Say: 'You Are not Welcome in our City'

    David Stockdale, a local councilor said: "Newcastle is a friendly, tolerant and inclusive city of sanctuary. We thrive on the diversity of our communities, which makes our city one of the truly great cities of the world.

    "Pegida paint a brutal misrepresentation of Islam. It’s important to stand up to that and for me to speak out against Pegida’s twisted prejudice."

    "The Newcastle Unites counter-demonstration will show Newcastle at its best. Islamophobia targets Muslims but it hurts us all and I’m so proud of how our wonderful city has come together to march in peace and solidarity against Pegida and everything they stand for."

    Northumbria Police say they have an open dialogue with parties from both demonstrations and say they are satisfied the demonstrations will pass "peacefully".

    Chief Superintendent Laura Young, from Northumbria Police, added: "I have had guarantees from both organisations that this will be a peaceful demonstration.

    "People should not be put off coming into the city centre on Saturday. People will still want to come shopping, there is a football match in the afternoon and people will be coming for other events."

    The march has attracted national and international interest. However anti-fascist campaigners, Hope Not Hate, say that Pegida’s presence in the UK is over-hyped.

    Graeme Atkinson, Hope Not Hate’s European editor, told Sputnik News, "the media need to be careful not to do their job for them and 'create' a movement that doesn’t really exist."

    "It’s losers chasing failures," says Atkinson.

    "Pegida has imploded in Germany. Pegida was out marched on the streets many times-to-one in Germany. Its leaders have left in shame."

    Newcastle Unites, which is organising the counter-demonstration, is aiming to attract high profile speakers, including George Galloway MP and celebrity Russell Brand.

    Tags:
    Islam, Muslims, racism, football, PEGIDA, Newcastle, Britain, United Kingdom
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