Anti-Islamic groups plan 'fightback rally' in Denmark
Published 19/01/2012 | 05:00
FAR-RIGHT anti-Islamic groups from across Europe are planning to rally in Denmark, for what organisers have billed as the birth of a European movement.
More than 10 anti-Islamic groups, led by the English Defence League (EDL), are expected to send representatives.
"There will be speeches from every defence league in Europe," said Isak Nygren, the spokesman for the Swedish Defence League.
"I hope we can show that there's resistance against Islamisation of Europe, that we can inspire each other."
Stephen Lennon, a former football hooligan who formed the EDL three years ago, said he was inspired to link up with other far-right groups in Europe, setting up the European Freedom Initiative.
He described the planned gathering, in Aarhus on March 31, as the "first proper European event".
"We're hoping this will be the launch of a wider European Defence League," he said. "We don't expect it to be big, but our first event wasn't that big, and they're just going to get bigger and bigger."
Mr Lennon, who was convicted of assault in November 2011 after butting an EDL member at a rally, said his members were prepared for violence.
"The likelihood is that the local Islamic community will come and attack us, aided and abetted by the far-left," he said.
"We come to protest peacefully, it's not our fault that when we come out, that they come to try and bash our heads in."
Imran Shah, a spokesman for the Islamic Society of Denmark, urged Muslims to stay away from the rally and called on the Danish government to act against the growing movement, especially in the wake of last year's massacre of 77 people by Anders Behring Breivik, a Norwegian far-right extremist.
"We've seen what the rhetoric of hate can do in Norway. Do we want some deaths here before we react?" he said.
Breivik was an early European supporter of the EDL, attending a rally in Bradford in 2010, and claiming hundreds of EDL members as his Facebook friends.
Matthew Goodwin, an expert on the far-right at Nottingham University, said the EDL's move into Europe was worrying.
"It shows us something that I don't think British commentators have grasped, which is that elsewhere in Europe, the EDL is seen as being quite a significant movement," he said. (©Daily Telegraph, London)