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Screenshot of victory celebration after Pegida bus turns around

Pegida cancels demo at Rotterdam mosque after threats

Some 20 supporters of the anti-Islam movement Pegida had to cancel their demonstration in front of the Laleli Mosque in Rotterdam on Thursday.

Published: June 9, 2018, 9:53 am

    Rotterdam

    According to Pegida, the Dutch police said that their safety could not be guaranteed, but Dutch law enforcement denied it. They said the group decided on its own to cancel, NU.nl reported.

    A spokesperson for Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb told the newspaper that Pegida “made the decision not to let the demonstration go ahead when they saw the crowd.”

    Dutch journalist Gerard ten Voorde tweeted that the Pegida bus had turned around. At the mosque, counter-demonstrators were cheering “victory” on receiving the news.

    A few hundred Muslim counter-demonstrators had gathered at the mosque and had formed a human chain. The atmosphere at the mosque was quite tense, with some harsh comments shouted at the Rotterdam mayor, but no arrests were made.

    Aboutaleb decided not to ban the demonstration, instead hoping that the violent-prone Muslim counter-demonstraters would discourage Pegida. His decision led to criticism from the Turkish government.

    Shortly after it was apparent that Pegida would not be demonstrating at the mosque by roasting pigs, the counter-demonstrators left and peace returned.

    Pegida had planned to hold pork barbecues at mosques in five municipalities during Ramadan evening prayers.

    The cities of Utrecht, The Hague, Arnhem and Gouda all banned the demonstrations at the mosques, but nevertheless gave Pegida the option to protest elsewhere.

    On Twitter Omer Celik, the Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs, called the decision to allow this protest “immoral”.

    “Other municipalities in the Netherlands did not allow Pegida to roast pigs in front of mosques at the fast-breaking time”, Celik tweeted. “However, Ahmet Abutalib, Mayor of Rotterdam, who is of Moroccan origin, thinks that this activity of Pegida is not against the law. Such a gross tragedy!”

    Celik added: “Any disrespect to mosques, churches and synagogues is a hate crime.”

    Aboutaleb has been accused of having ties with the Gulen movement in the United States. The Turkish government believes that cleric Fethullah Gulen was behind an attempted coup in the country in 2016.

    PVV leader Geert Wilders tweeted that Muslims now decide for Dutch citizens.

    Austria meanwhile, will shut down seven mosques and other Islamic organisations as part of a crackdown on “political Islam,” Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced Friday.

    “Radicalization and political Islam have no place in our country,” Austria’s 31-year-old leader told the media in Vienna.

    The announcement marks the first application of the Austrian 2015 Islam Act, prohibiting religious communities from raising funds from abroad.

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