Local citizens overwhelmed an anti-Islam group in London on Saturday.
The protestors came out to respond to an anti-Islam group, Patriots of Canada Against the Islamization of the West — or PEGIDA, after its German acronym. The group tried to hold a recruitment rally in front of London City Hall on Nov. 25.
PEGIDA is a far-right grassroots organization originally founded in Dresden, Germany in 2014 with chapters across Canada, including one in Ontario. The members of the group are united in their opposition to Islamic radicalism and advocate for the preservation of what they see as traditional Canadian values.
“Why is advocating for a safer country, a country based on a culture of Western and democratic value, somehow associated with the alt-right or white nationalism,” said Eric Brazau, a well-known advocate of anti-Islam sentiments and member of PEGIDA.
Approximately 10 PEGIDA members showed up, but by 11 a.m. protesters came out to oppose the rally planned by the anti-Islam group.
There was a group of about 40 protesters from different organizations including the London Labour Council, People for Peace London and Forest City Antifa.
The protesters played drums, blared loud sirens and chanted in an attempt to drown out PEGIDA's messages.
The confrontation was peaceful, although police had to end two minor altercations that resulted from two separate groups pushing each other. One member of PEGIDA shoved a female protestor with a sign.
“A lot of people feel that PEGIDA are a racist, Islamophobic, xenophobic group that harkens back to the early 1930’s rise of fascism,” said Mike Roy, fourth-year media and the public interest student and protester. “Basically we here in London just aren’t going to put up with that kind of hatred in our town. We want to make it known that these folks aren’t welcome spreading their message of hate.”
PEDIGA members held signs with anti-Islam messages, such as “Islamic values are un-Canadian."
The group had previously hosted a rally in London on July 22, where up to 500 people, most of them counter protestors, gathered in front of City Hall.
“There’s not very many PEGIDA members, which is fantastic. We’re seeing a larger group of people that are countering these folks”, Roy said. “I’m hoping we don’t have to do this much longer.”