Racist network to hold rally in Aarhus

January 20th, 2012

This article is more than 12 years old.

Aarhus mayor expresses regret at decision by the English Defence League to host first major European event for the anti-Muslim network in the city

Far-right groups from across Europe are set to hold a rally in Aarhus on March 31, the English Defence League (EDL) has announced.

According to a statement on Facebook by the Danish chapter Danske Defence League (DDL), the anti-Muslim organisation is organizing the rally to highlight “such topics as sharia law, halal and the increasing Islamification of our countries”.

The rally in Aarhus will be the first major gathering of the EDL – which is known for its connection to the football hooligan network – and its European network of supporters.

“WeÂ’re hoping this will be the launch of a wider European Defence League,” Isak Nygren, spokesperson for the Swedish Defence League (SDL) told Brtain’s The Telegraph. “I hope that we can show that thereÂ’s resistance against Islamisation of Europe, that we can inspire each other.”

Aarhus mayor Jacob Bundsgaard expressed disappointment that the rally was set to be held in the city.

”ItÂ’s sad that we have these kind of groups in Denmark and Europe and it’s important to me to send a clear signal to these people that this is not what Aarhus is about,” Bundsgaard told The Copenhagen Post. “We are developing our city on values of inclusion, tolerance and equal rights whereas these people are about hatred and about all the things we are not.”

Bundsgaard added that the far-right groups had their democratic right to demonstrate peacefully, so long as the police approved the plans.

But EDL demonstrations in the UK tend to be anything but peaceful, with violent confrontations commonly occurring between them and members of left-wing organisations staging counter rallies.

One demonstration in the British city of Bolton resulted in 74 arrests, 54 of which were members of Unite Against Fascism (UAF) and nine were EDL members.

Violence could be on the horizon at the rally this March too, after anti-fascist organisations have stated their intention to attend.

“We can’t let this go unnoticed,” Sarah Bruun, from umbrella organisation Antiracistisk Netværk, told left-wing news portal Modkraft. “ItÂ’s important to send a clear message that there are many of us who donÂ’t share their message.”

While blame for the violence can be pinned on both sides – the joint secretary of the UAF, Weyman Bennett, was arrested and charged with conspiracy to organise violent disorder after the Bolton demonstration – the EDL is known for seeking violent confrontations despite publicly stating it wanted to demonstrate peacefully.

A photograph posted on Facebook by the DDL, and published my Modkraft, shows more than a dozen men posing in front of a Danish flag. In the picture, some of the men can be seen holding pipes and weapons while others are masked.

In the UK, members of the EDL have been convicted on a variety of charges related to racist and anti-Muslim attacks, with two men receiving ten year sentences last December for attempting to burn down a mosque.

The DDL was established in August 2010 but in recent weeks has been suffering internal rifts, according to Modkraft. As a result there are several groups claiming to be the officially recognised national ‘defence league’, including Danske Defence League, the Danish Defence League and the Official Danish Defence League.

According to Modkraft, the latter has gained the support of the EDL, which is helping run the Danish chapter.


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