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Sun 1 Mar 2015 12:42 PM

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German anti-Islam group holds first rally in UK

The Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West (PEGIDA) is facing opposition as it tries to spread to other European countries

German anti-Islam group holds first rally in UK
A man gestures at a protest by the UK branch of the German group Pegida, in the city centre of Newcastle upon Tyne, Northern England on February 28, 2015.The German-based PEGIDA movement, which opposes what it calls the Islamisation of Europe, was staging its first demonstration on British soil on Saturday. (AFP/Getty Images)

The first anti-Islam protest run by the German organisation Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West (PEGIDA) has been held in the UK.

While 400 turned up for the PEGIDA event, a retaliatory march also staged in Newcastle, northeast England, attracted nearly five times as many participants, according to Reuters.

PEGIDA has garnered a major following in Germany, which it claims is being overrun by Muslims. However a large anti-PEGIDA following also has grown in response.

Reuters said the group had tried to spread to other countries with little success.

The PEGIDA United Kingdom Facebook page shows it has had more than 17,700 "likes".

Fears that anti-Islam sentiment is growing in Britain have intensified as violence by Islamist militants in the Middle East dominate the headlines and after actual and threatened attacks in Europe.

Some Islamic groups have criticised the British authorities' response to the threat from militants, saying it has demonised Britain's 2.7 million Muslims.

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