Anti-Islamist rally flops in Denmark

Anti-Islamist rally flops in Denmark

Anti-Islamist rally flops in Denmark

A supporter of the far-right group Danish Defense League walks in an anti-Islamic rally in Aarhus on March 31. The rally fails to attract masses. AFP photo

An anti-Islamic gathering in Denmark’s second city on March 31 attracted fewer than 200 supporters compared with thousands of counter demonstrators of whom 83 were arrested.

There were numerous brief scuffles throughout the day as police tried to separate some 2,500 counter-demonstrators from a few hundred people attending the anti-Islamic rally in Aarhus. Police said about 200 to 300 people from Denmark, Britain, Germany, Sweden and Poland took part in what was billed as a “European counter-jihad meeting” to protest what they called the Islamization of Europe.

They were met by a 10-times larger counter-demonstration by left-wing groups under the banner “Aarhus for Diversity.” The anti-Islamic rally started with a moment of silence for the seven people killed by an al-Qaeda-inspired gunman in France.

Both demonstrations were peaceful until a group of black-clad, mask-wearing youth from the counter-demonstration tried to break through police lines, but officers in riot gear held them back, according to the Associated Press. After the rally finished, protesters hurled rocks and bottles at a bus carrying the far-right sympathizers as police vans escorted it out of the city center. After, police arrested 83 people.

Links to Breivik

The defense leagues and other counter-jihadist groups that have sprung up in Europe in recent years distance themselves from neo-Nazis and say they don’t accept racism or anti-Semitism.

Opponents say they are just a new manifestation of xenophobia in Europe, targeting Muslims instead of Jews. Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian gunman who confessed to slaughtering 77 people last July, cited the English Defense League and other counter-jihadist groups in the anti-Muslim manifesto he released before the killing spree. Those groups have condemned his actions and dismissed him as a lunatic.

Compiled from AP and Reuters stories by the Daily News staff.