Anti-Islam Protest Group 'Not Welcome In Newcastle'
11 February 2015, 14:16
A Newcastle councillor has told Heart anti-Islam group Pegida, who are planning their first UK rally in Newcastle later this month aren't welcome in the city.
Dipu Ahad represents the Elswick ward in Newcastle, which has a high Muslim population.
He's told us he'll do everything he can to stop the protest going ahead.
"People are worried about taking their children out in the streets when this rally's supposed to be taking place.
This is fear that no community should have to go through.
These fascist groups says they're not racist and they're not Islamophobic. They are.
But that's just a facade, a smoke screen. They are racist and they are people who promote hate.
They want to jump on the bandwagon, especially after what happened in Paris.
There has been fear amongst the community, wondering if they are going to come into our locality."
Pegida, which stands for Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West, is a German anti-immigration right-wing anti-Islamist political organization founded in Dresden in October 2014.
It has been organizing weekly demonstrations against what it considers the islamization of the Western world, calling for more restrictive immigration restrictions, particularly for Muslims.
It wants to change the law in Germany so that it becomes similar to Australian immigration programmes and Canadian immigration categories.
The first demonstration by the group on 20th October 2014 drew only a handful of people.
In the following days, the movement began drawing public attention and now its weekly Monday demonstrations have started to attract larger numbers of people.
The demonstrations grew to 10,000 people on 8th December 2014.
On its Facebook group, an event planned for Newcastle on the 28th of February has more than 500 people confirmed as attending.
We've contacted Pegida.
Matthew Pope is from the group, he told Heart "We are not against a Muslim community at all in any way or form.
"We're actually against the elements of Islam which are affecting British communities, one of our main concerns is that we can't address these issues in government because we are labelled with words such as racist"
"It's not around based on any form of hatred."