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Tensions high ahead of Danish Pegida events

The Local · 19 Jan 2015, 13:23

Published: 19 Jan 2015 13:23 GMT+01:00

Despite rumours to the contrary and the cancellation of the weekly Pegida march in Dresden, the organizer of a Monday Pegida event in Copenhagen vowed that it will go on as planned. 
 
Nicolai Sennels, the man behind the Copenhagen march, told The Local that “fake press releases, fake Facebook pages etc are spreading false rumours” about the cancellation of his event, which he said is about expressing resistance to a “violent type of Islam” that his group fears is spreading across Europe. 
 
The cancellation rumours circulated at the same time that death threats from the terrorist group Islamic State (Isis) led Dresden organizers to call off Monday’s Pegida event there
 
Read more from The Local Germany: Isis threat stops Monday Pegida march
 
Monday’s events mark the first significant Pegida presence in Denmark. The movement, which stands for Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West, has been drawing tens of thousands of people into the streets of Germany over the past three months, both in support of and opposition to the anti-Islam group. 
 
There are concerns that Monday’s events in both Copenhagen and Aarhus could potentially turn violent. 
 
The Copenhagen march will be met by a counter demonstration from the group Revolutionære Antifacister (Revolutionary Anti-Fascists) and the two groups are likely to cross paths. 
 
Although the Revolutionary Anti-Fascists, like the pro-Pegida group, have promised a peaceful demonstration, a Facebook post from the anti-fascist group encourages participants to “show their resistance” to Pegida supporters. 
 
“We still encourage all anti-racists, anti-fascists and other comrades to remain in the area or head toward the National Gallery of Denmark and the Little Mermaid after the demonstration is over and show their resistance against Pegida DK in the way you wish to do it,” the post reads. 
 
A police spokesman told broadcaster DR that there will be a “very visible” police presence at the duelling Copenhagen events. 
 
“We have put together a large police operation with a large set-up. We will be very visible at the location to ensure that everything goes down peacefully and orderly,” Copenhagen Police inspector Mogens Lauridsen told DR. 
 
Pegida spokesman Sennels has gone to great pains to say that racists and Nazis are not welcome at the event, but the left-wing research collective Redox reported that “several known people from Neo-Nazi circles” are planning to attend the Pegida march. Sennels told Redox that the Neo-Nazis "are welcome in the demonstration as individuals".

See also: Danish Pegida organizer: No racists allowed
 
Mogens Camre, a prominent Danish People’s Party politician who has twice faced racism charges for comments made about Muslims, has also announced that he will join the Pegida demonstration. 
 
Story continues below…
Since the announcement of Monday’s event, many of Sennel’s own anti-Islam writings, which can be read on his website, have come under fire from critics who have accused him of stirring up anti-Muslim sentiment. 
 
Sennels, a former candidate for the Danish People’s Party, told The Local last week that the Copenhagen march “is not about a political stance or about being on the left or right.”
 
“There are a lot of completely normal Danish people - school teachers, my mother, etc - who don’t necessarily vote for the right wing but who should be able to voice their aversion to this violent type of Islam,” he said. 
 
As of Monday afternoon, some 300 people had registered on Facebook to attend Pegida's demonstration against fundamentalist Islam, while around 800 had signed up for the counter-demo. The Pegida march begins at 6pm at the National Gallery of Denmark, while the demonstration against Pegida starts at 5pm at Sankt Hans Torv. 
 
Read more from The Local Germany: The rise and spread of Pegida

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