LONDON, UK – Far-right groups from across Europe are holding a rally in Denmark in a bid to set up “an anti-Islamic alliance” across the continent.
A police spokesman told the Associated Press that around 300 people are taking part in the demonstration, which is being held in Aarhus, Denmark’s second-biggest city, 200 kilometers north-west of Copenhagen.
The event has been organized by the English Defence League (EDL), which says it wants to combat the “Islamification of Europe” and halt Muslim migration to the continent completely.
The EDL said it hoped Saturday’s demonstration would mark the beginning of a Europe-wide movement that would continue to grow, according to The Guardian.
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The rally has reportedly drawn participants from several countries, including Britain, Germany, Poland and Sweden, and began with a moment of silence for the seven people killed in France by Toulouse gunman Mohamed Merah earlier this month.
A much larger counter-demonstration nearby saw 2,500 people gather under the banner “Aarhus For Diversity.”
Leaders of several anti-Islamic groups have reportedly been in Aarhus since Wednesday to hold meetings and exchange ideas.
Matthew Goodwin, an expert on far-right groups in Britain, told the BBC that Saturday’s rally would be strategically significant even if turnout was low:
“What we are seeing here for the first time in British political history is an anti-Muslim far-right organization taking the lead in trying to mobilize pan-European opposition to Islam,” he said.
The UK government has previously banned several marches planned by the EDL, whose members are widely viewed as holding extremist views, according to CNN.
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