Ten arrested in clashes with anti-Islam Pegida, police

A demonstration by controversial anti-Islam organization Pegida near a mosque in Eindhoven turned more sinister on Sunday, with ten counter-protestors taken into custody. Four police officers suffered minor injuries in confrontations down the road from the Al-Fourqaan Mosque.

The ten suspects were aged 14 to 32, police said, and included seven residents of Eindhoven, one from Geldrop, and two from Belgium. Seven people were still in custody Monday accused of violence against police. Two of three underage boys were released because of insufficient evidence, while a 14-year-old boy was expected to be questioned on Monday for insulting police.

“A group of several hundred people who turned against the demonstration, mostly young people, caused disturbances from 7 p.m. by throwing stones and other objects,” police said in a statement. By about 8 p.m., hundreds of young people tried to prevent 15 Pegida members from reaching the mosque, Eindhoven Dagblad reported. It led to a decision 30 minutes later by Deputy Mayor Renate Richters to give police broader powers to cancel the event, and to escort the Pegida members away from the scene.

Pedida leader Edwin Wagensveld told Omroep Brabant his organization was just in the business of delivering criticism. Pegida has in the past been criticized for trying to roast pigs on a spit outside of mosques during Ramadan, their members have been accused of carrying out acts that threaten other mosque visitors, while Wagensveld himself was once arrested for wearing a pig head hat at an Amsterdam protest.

Wagenveld said he was disappointed the protest was not allowed to continue, and called it the mayor’s responsibility to make sure that there was enough police presence to guarantee his group’s right to assemble. “No matter how much significance the [mayor’s office, prosecutor’s office, and police] places on the freedom of demonstration, the safety of residents comes first at such a moment,” police said in a statement.

Wagenveld vowed to return to the Eindhoven’s Al-Fourqaan Mosque ten times if necessary. “We request demonstrations every month and always receive these kinds of reactions. People simply do not accept that there is criticism,” he told the broadcaster.

Muslim people will continue to celebrate the holy period of Ramadan, which started on May 7 and continues until June 5.