Yesterday (Saturday, February 28) Pegida UK – the first international affiliate of the German anti-Islam protest group – held their first British demonstration in Newcastle city centre.
The event was well-intentioned enough, as these things usually are, but by the close of the day, it had failed to make a significant point. Though over 800 people had stated their intention to attend the protest on the Pegida UK facebook page, less than 400 made the effort. To compound this, the group was met by a counter-protest of over 2000 people led by the Muslim Scot George Galloway MP. Sensing humiliation, the Pegida members then became violent, jostling with police and resisting the obstruction of security lines. As a result of this behaviour, the press coverage has been uniformly negative.
Why does this kind of thing happen in Britain but not in Germany? Why is it that German Pegida members can conduct themselves in a civil manner and UK supporters can’t? They are ostensibly part of the same movement, with the same ideals, goals and leadership. Yet the German Pegida, at its December protest, sang Christmas carols and held candles. Those gathered were young and old, poor and rich, and yet they were all smartly dressed and maintained throughout a pleasant order.
What is so different about Britain? I have a feeling this specific event was compromised by some of the political groups in attendance. The BNP, under new leader Adam Walker, attended along with its own, rather dubious supporters. The thuggish and anti-Semitic political zombie ‘National Front UK’ turned out as well.
But this is part of a bigger trend. The EDL, as honourable as they were, often abused the police, threw fireworks, took drugs and sought to incite violence. This helps no-one. What we seek to protest is the criminal behaviour of a hostile minority. Nobody will listen to us if we indulge in disorderly conduct while doing so.