Police out in force at race rally

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Published: Saturday 28th February 2015 by The News Editor

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A major police operation will be in place today for the first demonstration in Britain by the controversial anti-Islam group Pegida UK.

Opponents of the group are also rallying in Newcastle city centre, on what will be a busy day for Northumbria Police as it coincides with a Premier League football match.

Pegida organisers have pledged on Facebook that it is a peaceful organisation and not affiliated with right-wing extremists.

Opponents disagreed and have vowed to make the group, whose name translated from German means Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West, feel unwelcome.

George Galloway MP and comedian Russell Brand have backed the counter demonstrators, who come under the banner Newcastle Unites.

It is unclear how many people will support the first Pegida rally, although more than 800 people have indicated on Facebook that they will attend.

Pegida peaked in Germany last month when 25,000 people attended an event in Dresden but its popularity has faded following a scandal among its leadership.

Northumbria Police has said it will be business as normal for visitors to the city centre, including fans for the afternoon match between Newcastle United and Aston Villa.

Newcastle Chief Superintendent Laura Young said: “The force respects the right to peaceful protest and takes a neutral standpoint, not supporting or endorsing any groups or individuals.”

Published: Saturday 28th February 2015 by The News Editor

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