MONTREAL — A planned protest by the new Canadian branch of anti-Islam group PEGIDA failed to materialize here Saturday as around 500 opponents gathered to rally against the demonstration.
A large police cordon surrounded the anti-PEGIDA protesters in Montreal’s Little Maghreb neighborhood, which is home to a large North African Muslim community.
Germany-based PEGIDA, or Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West, had called for a protest in the area.
However, less than a dozen PEGIDA protesters gathered at a car park near the neighborhood before the group’s planned demonstration was canceled.
Anti-PEGIDA protesters instead took center stage, brandishing banners with slogans that included “Solidarity against Islamophobia” and “Smash PEGIDA! Against the Nazis.”
Cheers later broke out as police told those gathered that PEGIDA had scrapped its planned protest.
The emergence of PEGIDA in Canada has drawn widespread condemnation, with one national lawmaker calling on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to outlaw the movement.
PEGIDA is a right-wing populist group launched in Germany that rails against Islam and “criminal asylum seekers.”
The group made headlines in January when it drew 25,000 people to a march in the German city of Dresden.
Further marches have drawn smaller crowds and in many cases have been dwarfed by larger counter-demonstrations.