A BRITISH rally organised by a German anti-Islam group led to five arrests after clashes with a counter demonstration.
Northumbria Police said 375 people were on the Pegida rally while 2,000 joined the Newcastle Unites protest in the city centre.
Among those protesting the rally were George Galloway, the former Glasgow MP, who branded the group a “German Nazi” organisation trying to “stir up trouble.”
Police said they arrested five people during a major operation to keep the two groups apart. There was a brief scuffle involving members of far-right groups, but no outbreak of major trouble.
It was unclear which sides the five arrested men were from, and their alleged offences ranged from assault, to being drunk and disorderly and breach of the peace.
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George Galloway, Respect MP for Bradford West, spoke at the Newcastle Unites counter demo, and said: “All right-thinking people in Britain condemn the idea of a German Nazi group coming to the North East of England trying to stir up trouble. We have enough problems in Britain without Germans coming over here and causing more.”
Galloway, who travelled to the North East in his Mercedes, said he was not anti-German.
“I love Germans, I’m driving a German car, but this is one German import we don’t want,” he said.
Pegida organisers insisted before the event that it would be peaceful, that they were not racist and that the far-right were not welcome.
Paul Weston, leader of the right-wing Liberty GB party, spoke at the Pegida rally, telling supporters that Muslims would be in the majority in Britain in decades to come and that they will “take over”.
“That is exactly what they will do if we quietly do nothing,” he told the crowd. “We have to fight back.”