Anti-Islam group Pegida attempts to burn Koran in Rotterdam; Leader arrested
The anti-Islam group Pegida announced it would burn a Koran near Rotterdam Central Station on Saturday, amid outcry from Muslim counter-protesters. However, the police arrested the group's leader and confiscated the Koran before the demonstration was under completely underway, according to Rijnmond.
Edwin Wagensveld, Pegida's foreman, could be heard insulting Islam and the prophet Muhammad during his arrest. He was arrested for "insulting the faith," according to Rijnmond.
"Hier spreekt de politie: bij de andere demonstratie is de Koran afgepakt en die zal niet gebruikt worden." Zojuist op het Stadionplein in Rotterdam.— Geerten Waling (@GeertenWaling) October 22, 2022
Zie einde van dit filmpje: pic.twitter.com/Px6UjWnpDS
"A Koran has been taken to prevent further escalation and serious disorder," the Rotterdam police said on Twitter following the arrest. "A man has been arrested for shouting an insulting slogan."
Pegida announced beforehand that it would burn a Koran on the Stationsplein, which Rotterdam's deputy mayor Robert Simons said was not allowed. Muslim umbrella organization SPIOR responded to the announcement by filing a notice of objection, while city council party Denk requested a motion to ban the demonstration. However, Wagensveld still announced on Twitter on Saturday morning that he was en route to Rotterdam to carry out the demonstration.
It is unclear how many Pegida protesters were at the event. There were many counter-protesters, who set off a yellow smoke bomb, threw eggs, set off fireworks and chanted "Allahu Akbar," according to Rijnmond. The counter-protesters cheered when the police announced they had taken the Koran and that it would not be burned.