Anti-Islam rally attracts thousands in the Netherlands


Almost one year after its first rally in Dresden, a PEGIDA protest on Monday attracted a crowd of several thousand in Utrecht, the Netherlands.

PEGIDA, the German acronym for "Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the West," organised the demonstration which called for refugees to be expelled. An AP reporter estimated that the crowd was about 7,000-8,000 strong, which though still substantial, is significantly less than the 25,000 who turned out for a rally in Dresdon in January.

Speakers included PEGIDA co-founder Lutz Bachmann, who denounced the German government policy which has allowed more than half a million refugees into Germany.

Tommy Robinson, the founder and former leader of the English Defence League (EDL) also addressed the crowd.

He declared that he was "proud" to have set up the EDL, a far-right protest group. He appeared alongside leaders of PEGIDA to call for a day of protest across Europe.

He told the crowds that European culture was being destroyed by "fake refugees who have no intention of integration and no intention of assimilation".

In October 2013 Robinson announced he was leaving the EDL to work with the counter-extremist Quilliam Foundation to combat Islamism. This weekend he seemingly returned to his roots, however, referring to his EDL colleagues as "brave and fearless."