The municipality of Eindhoven has granted permission Pegida, a far-right, anti-Islam group, to hold a demonstration at the Al-Fourqaan mosque in Eindhoven later this month.
Pegida has its origins in Germany. The name is an acronym of ‘patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the West’ in German. The Dutch branch was officially established in the Netherlands in 2015.
In April this year, the group expressed its intention to hold a demonstration outside the mosque on 6th May, the first day of Ramadan. It was to be the first of a series of protests throughout Ramadan. It dubbed this series as ‘The Ramadan Tour’.
The group proposed to lead a protest march through the market at Woensel before holding a demonstration in the car park at Al-Forquaan mosque. Members proposed that this would involve a stage, sound system, banners and a barbeque.
Conditions of the demonstration
The group was forced to postpone its demonstration until 26th May, because the municipality was not satisfied that adequate security measures were in place to protect opponents and the public. Today, the municipality issued a press release that permits the demonstration to go ahead on 26th May, under certain conditions.
The demonstration must be carried out ‘under conditions which guarantee public order and security for all participants, opponents, mosque residents, neighbours and passers-by’. John Jorritsma, the Mayor of Eindhoven, decided this after consultations with the local police.
The group has been designated a specific place within the car park which they may not pass beyond. Members are also prohibited from holding their intended barbeque.
‘A great thing in our democracy’
Jorritsma stated that ‘in the Netherlands you can express your opinion and demonstrate. That is a great thing in our democracy’. However, he also made clear that ‘these rights are not unlimited’ and that ‘you may not discriminate or interfere with a person’s liberty to practice his or her faith’. Further, ‘the demonstration should not endanger traffic, health or public policy’.
‘No reaction is the best reaction’ – imam responds
The imam at the Al-Fourqaan mosque has called on worshippers to remain calm. ‘No reaction is the best reaction,’ he said.
Worshippers’ reactions are more mixed. Some recognise that ‘there is freedom of demonstration in the Netherlands,’ and do not seem intimidated by Pegida’s intentions. ‘Everyone is welcome in our mosque… the door is always open. Maybe we will give the demonstrators coffee and sandwiches,’ another said. However, others find it incomprehensible that the municipality has given permission for such a ‘hate protest’.
Source: Omroep Brabant and press release from Gemeente Eindhoven
Translator: Rachael Vickerman