Just four protestors at Sweden anti-Islam rally
AFP/The Local · 3 Mar 2015, 08:45
Published: 03 Mar 2015 08:20 GMT+01:00
Updated: 03 Mar 2015 08:45 GMT+01:00
- Anti-racists set to swamp Pegida rally in Sweden (02 Mar 15)
The march went ahead on Monday night even after the local organizers dropped out at the last minute.
But among the Pegida representatives present in the town’s main square were several high profile names in Sweden: Dan Park, an artist who has previously been convicted of inciting racial hatred and Henry Rönnquist, the gallery owner who exhibited Park’s controversial pictures and the man who founded Pegida in Sweden.
Dan Park was also reported to have been present at the cultural centre in Copenhagen where a terror attack took place last month.
There was a strong police presence at the Linköping rally, reflecting Sweden’s concerns about security in the wake of the recent shootings in Copenhagen and France as well as an awareness about how Pegida marches can turn violent, as they have in neighbouring Germany.
But Fredrik Kliman, spokesman for the police in Östergötland, described the demonstration as "very, very quiet."
"I think that both sides feel they got their messages across", he added.
"We protested because we want to see a Linköping where everyone can feel safe, and hate can never be the solution," Ayaan Goobe, an activist from the group Ett Linkoping för Alla (One Linköping for all) who spoke at the counter demonstration told Swedish newspaper Echo.
The rally ended with Park and Rönnquist being escorted away by police.
Pegida supporters were also dwarfed in numbers by thousands of counter-demonstrators when they held their first public demonstration in Sweden in Malmö on 9th February.
Pegida (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the Occident) rallies began in the German city of Dresden last year with several hundred supporters and snowballed to reach 25,000 people on January 12th.
But numbers have fallen since the movement's founder stepped down on January 21st after a picture surfaced of him posing as Adolf Hitler. Other senior figures have also since resigned.
Small offshoots of Pegida have sprung up in other German cities and marches have taken place in Austria, Denmark and Norway, involving however only a few hundred people and generally outnumbered by far larger anti-racism rallies.