Pegida Vlaanderen has not been granted a permit to demonstrate in Antwerp on the 26th of January by the city’s mayor Bart de Wever (New Flemish Alliance). The Flemish movement supports the goals of the German anti-Islamic organization with a similar name (Pegida, short for “Patriotische Europäer Gegen die Islamiserung des Abendlanders”). The mayor’s spokesman informed the press the permit had been refused on Wednesday evening. The counter-protest planned by Hart boven Hard, a civil movement for solidarity and equality, was not granted a permit either. The decision was taken on the basis of the local police’s concerns about the demonstrations. “The level 3 alert is still in place for the whole country, and the two demonstrations are a risk to public safety in the current climate. They would require a large police presence”, said the mayor’s spokesman. The mayor himself did not want to comment.
Pegida Vlaandern wants to demonstrate on Monday to support the weekly rallies held by Pegida sympathizers all over Germany. The movement says it is “against the Islamization of the Old continent”. The Facebook page for the demonstration on the 26th of January has over 7,000 “likes”. 526 people had put they would be taking part in the demonstration on Wednesday, which is described as “a people’s demonstration for Freedom and against Islamization”. “We are supporting the Pegida movement in Germany from Flanders: against the Islamization if the Old continent and Muslim terror, for Freedom and democracy”, the organizers wrote on Facebook.
The “base” of the Pegida movement is in Dresden, East Germany. The movement wants a very restrictive immigration policy, which protects society against “Islamization”. It has gained notoriety very quickly following the attacks in France at the beginning of January. Its weekly Monday rallies were emulated during the month of January: several hundred people stating they were from Pegida demonstrated in Oslo on the 12th of January. This was followed by plans for demonstrations in Denmark and Flanders.