He decided to do so because shortly after the start, unrest broke out with opponents pelting the Pegida supporters with cans, eggs and bottles. One university student was injured. Utrecht Mayor Jan van Zanen ordered the demonstration to be shut down for security reasons an hour after it began.
During the demonstration, members of Pegida, or Patriotic Europeans Against Islamisation of the West, made speeches warning against Islam.
Yucel Aydemir, president of the Ulu Mosque Foundation, told Anadolu Agency that anti-Islam statements by Pegida members led to the provocation of a group of Muslims and a fight broke out.
“I have been living here for 38 years, and this is the first time I have experienced such an incident,” Aydemir said. But the mosque is new and was only completed in 2015.
It is the largest mosque in the Netherlands, erected next to the Utrecht Central trainstation.
“On the advice of the police and municipality, the mayor then decided to cancel the demonstration, to prevent further disorder,” said the municipality, which estimates that the group that caused unrest consisted of about 150 people.
Pegida supporters had set up a screen at the Ulu mosque to show images of atrocities that they associate with Islam. They were then attacked by mostly young counter-demonstrators.
The police intervened, including with agents on horseback. The Pegida demonstrators were taken away by bus for their own safety.
Up to now no arrests have been made, says a spokesperson for the police. “But detentions can also follow later,” the spokesperson added. After the demonstration had ended, it remained uneasy for some time in the street.
The anti-Islam demonstrators, among other things, earlier had planned to fry bacon patties on the sidewalk. According to the mayor, however, that was irresponsible.
Pegida meetings have aready been prohibited in other Dutch cities. In addition to Utrecht, demonstrations had been requested in four other cities. In Arnhem and Gouda, the group was not given permission to hold a demonstration.
In Rotterdam the group was given permission recently to meet in front of the Laleli mosque. The Hague has not yet taken a decision.