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Anti-racism advocates mobilizing counter-protest of PEGIDA’s city hall rally

Christian D'Avino / AM980
An upcoming rally at London City Hall planned by a group known for its anti-Islam views, has anti-racism advocates mobilizing a counter-protest.

PEGIDA Canada, also known as People of Canada Against the Islamization of the West, say the Aug. 26 “Freedom Rally” at 12 p.m. is to “educate the public about Islamization the government’s facilitation of it.”

In a message on Facebook, PEGIDA Canada told AM980 they don’t plan to respond to counter-protestors, and they’ll have a security team to de-escalate potentially violent situations, if they happen.

READ MORE: Victoria Park anti-racism rally hears messages of love and unity

During an anti-racism gathering at Victoria Park on Wednesday evening, members of People of the Peace London and the London chapter of Council of Canadians asked rally-goers to show up for a counter protest at City Hall. An anti-hate rally event on Facebook urges people to “bring drums, rattles, stories of inclusion, poetry and your love for humanity.”

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David Heap, a member of People for Peace London, said it’s not easy to show up, but it’s necessary.

“If we’re silent, we’re complicit,” he told AM980’s the Craig Needles Show.

“It does represent something in our community and we have to take it seriously, but I think the numbers clearly show the haters are greatly out-numbered here.”

READ MORE: Sparks fly at London City Hall as protesters clash during anti-Islam rally

During past PEGIDA Canada rallies in London, Heap said between nine and 12 people represented the anti-Islam group.

“We’ve always out-numbered them, and I think on Saturday the 26th we’ll out-number them even more. It’s the same sentiment as [Wednesday’s anti-racism rally], but more focused on simply saying there are far more in the community that accept and value all cultures, than there are in the community that are intolerant, and hateful, and xenophobic and only value one kind of people. ”
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The city’s head of security and emergency management, Dave O’Brien said they’re working with London police, and there will be uniformed police present.

“We’re going to monitor the event and ensure the safety of everyone involved, as well as anybody in the area,” he said.

During the last PEGIDA rally at city hall, O’Brien said he observed a brief pushing match between two people.

PEGIDA was formed in Germany, and now has branches across the western world. It says it combats issues surrounding Islam, including terrorism, radicalization and the Islamization of the west.

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