Racist demonstration at Utrecht mosque

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The anti-Islam movement Pegida wants to demonstrate again in Utrecht. Their leader Edwin Wagensveld is requesting a permit for this week. Pegida wants to repeat the demonstration that was dispersed by the police last night outside the Ulu mosque.

Pegida supporters had to leave Friday evening shortly after the start of their demonstration by order of Mayor Jan van Zanen. His office felt that public safety was at risk during the anti-Islam protest. Followers of Pegida were pelted with eggs, fruit and full cans of beer.

Wagensveld believed that the police had done too little to protect his people, but also the press. He says they have the right to demonstrate as they had a permit for it. He felt that the police could have solved the problem very easily.

In my opinion, the solution would be not to allow provocative Islamophobic groups permission to shout their racist slogans outside a mosque.

But that is free speech I suppose.

The mayor felt he had to intervene.

According to Wagensveld he called for his supporters to

‘throw tomatoes’,

but he says he only did that because the police did not want to intervene. This seems a strange excuse and is itself another provocative gesture.

Pegida is requesting a new demonstration permit for this week. He says that they will continue to protest until they can demonstrate freely. He says they have that right.

For some reason he hopes that there will be no counter-demonstration, which is a strange stand point if he is a believer in free protest. Counter protest should be everyone’s right as well.

Wagensveld is even more provocative when he says that it looked on Friday night, like the mosque had its own protectors. He called them a kind of Sharia police. To me it makes sense if they want to protect their property. Wagensveld seems to want everything in his favour, whilst criticising groups who want the same rights. Is this democracy, is it a one way street? I don’t think so.

On the square in front of the Ulu mosque, Pegida wanted to show images of events that ‘belong to Islam’ on a large screen. This would have been images of beheadings, burns and the explanation of the concept Halal. These are not sights that we want to see in Utrecht and Pegida are walking a tight line when they promote this kind of indoctrination.

We all know that Islam is not about these actions. It is pure hypocrisy of Pegida to insinuate this.

Chairman Mehmut Sungur of Denk believed that issuing the license for Friday night’s demonstration of Pegida was a large error. Sungur had expected the problems., but points out that we should not want that in Utrecht.

Sungur says that Pegida deliberately wanted to provoke and that we could expect the reaction.  He had expected the disturbances; traffic chaos around the mosque could also have been foreseen. These reasons alone are reasons for not issuing a permit.

There is acknowledgement by Sungur that everyone must be able to say what they want but not in the way they did on Friday and not in front of the mosque. He feels they should go to the Julianapark or somewhere else, or preferably not in Utrecht at all.

Corine van Dun of D66 does not think it is right for the mayor to label the youngsters who threw eggs as rioters. She felt it was a kind of counter-demonstration and that the boys had gotten angry about what they had seen.

Pegida is allowed to demonstrate in Utrecht. Freedom of expression is key in Utrecht. It is key to Western democracy.

Heleen de Boer of GroenLinks thinks that the mayor was right when he acted to end the demonstration prematurely, as safety was the issue. Again, she agrees that everyone has the right to demonstrate, but she saw this as a terrible provocation, held as it was just in front of the mosque. ‘

The police reported that no arrests had been made and that they didn’t expect to make any.


Should anti-Islamic groups be allowed to demonstrate in front of mosques?

Should we allow provocative demonstrations in Utrecht.

Are there limits to Free Speech?

Should there be?

Where is the place for discussions about Islam and other religions?

Should racist political groups be allowed?

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Jon Wilkins

Jon Wilkins

Jon Wilkins is Welsh and lives in England. He is a writer. A Europhile and Remainer, he is a regular visitor to Utrecht and has set his crime novel series in the city.

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