HUNDREDS of anti-racism campaigners are to take to the streets of the capital in a show of defiance against far-right anti-Muslim group Pegida.
The organisation - which protests against what it believes to be the “Islamisation” of Europe - is to host its first Scottish rally outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh this Saturday.
Pegida originated in Germany and its name is an acronym for “Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the West”. It held a rally in Dresden last month attended by 25,000 people and is now trying to raise support in the UK thorugh an affiliation with the Scottish Defence League.
Their first UK rally in Newcastle last month saw a few hundred Pegida supporters outnumbered and faced down by a counter demo with over 2000 supporters.
United Against Fascism (UAF) have announced plans to host their own counter demonstration in a bid to show that “right wing racism has no place in Scotland.”
Police Scotland will draft in extra officers on the day to ensure there is no conflict between the two opposition groups.
An online advert for the Pegida event asks “all patriot groups” to attend and meet at Waverley Sation for 2.30pm before proceeding to the parliament building at Holyrood.
The UAF is also to host an anti-fascism and racism rally through in Glasgow on the same day - UN Anti-Racism Day, March 21.
United Against Fascism (UAF) Scotland member Willie Black said: “This is a cycnical attempt on their part to split the number of anti-fascist demonstrators able to attend.
“The far right in Scotland namely the Scottish Defence League (SDL) are in disarray at the moment and they see in Pegida a chance to cover themselves with a veneer of respectability.
“This German group has attracted alot of support in their home country and have achieved a political platform as a result and that is the motivation behind them now being welcomed by the far right to the UK and Scotland.”
Edinburgh Police Scotland commander chief superintendent Mark Williams said: “There are numerous demonstrations in Edinburgh each year and we have a wealth of experience in dealing with them.”
“A key role of the service is to facilitate lawful protest and, alongside our partner organisations, we take appropriate steps to safeguard the public during all of our detailed planning.
“Let me be clear however - where there is unlawful protest or disorder that threatens public safety we will always act swiftly and professionally to prevent it and to target those responsible.”
A UAF spokesman said: “The need for an opposition to Scottish Pegida is not a matter of freedom of speech; it is an opposition to the promotion of racist lies and hate. They encourage the hatred of people on the grounds of their race and religion and constitute an attempt to foster right wing racism that should have no place in a Scotland that celebrates its diversity and toleration.”