Pegida UK

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Pegida UK's logo, 2015

Pegida UK was set up in January 2015 in an attempt to replicate the anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant PEGIDA protests seen in Germany which started in Dresden. The founder, Tommy Robinson, said that he hoped Pegida UK would be different from the EDL,[1] that it would attract a more 'middle-class' demographic, and would discourage the 'loutish behaviour and alcohol-fueled violence' of the EDL.[2]

The Pegida UK facebook page had over 3,000 'likes' a week after it was created. The page claimed to be for Europeans who 'dislike radical Islam' but the tag given to the page was 'Patriots of Europe against Islam'.

By 2017 the group was largely defunct. Robinson moved on to other more lucrative ventures - joining the anti-Muslim Canadian online platform Rebel Media as its UK 'correspondent' in April 2017.


A post on Pegida UK's facebook page on 6 January 2015 stated that 'ultimately the aim is to organize (sic) peaceful protests'.[3].

Manchester 'vigil'

After a number of people were murdered at the offices of the magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris on 7 January 2015, Pegida UK held a poorly attended 'vigil' in Manchester on 11 January 2015, reportedly including members of the English Defence League, British National Party and North West Infidels.[4]

Newcastle demonstration

In February 2015 the Independent newspaper reported that a group calling itself Pegida UK planned to hold a rally in Newcastle on 28 February (referred to as its 'first' UK demonstration) and said subsequent events were slated to take place in Birmingham and London.[5]

Pegida UK's 28 February 2015 demonstration in Newcastle went ahead, attracting up to 400 people but was outnumbered by up to 3,000 counter-protesters. There was a clear far-right presence, with English Defence League and National Front flags displayed by people participating in the Pegida demonstration[6] as well as a Golden Dawn flag, numerous Union Jack and England flags, at least one Israeli flag as well as reports of EDL chanting.[7]. Matthew Pope was described in the media as Pegida UK's official spokesperson.[8]

Edinburgh demonstration flop

A newly founded Pegida Scotland called a protest in Edinburgh on 21 March 2015 but it was very poorly attended, attracting, according to some reports, just four people.[9] Members of the Scottish Defence League (SDL) were reportedly in the area and sympathetic to the Pegida organisers' politics but decided not to participate. The SDL's Graeme Walker blamed poor Pegida organisation. Around 200 anti-fascist protesters held a counter-demonstration.[10]

London demonstration

Pegida UK called for a demonstration in London on Saturday 4 April, scheduled for 5pm, reportedly hoping to attract English Defence League members - who made up a significant segment of participants in Pegida's Newcastle demo - after their protest in Oxford taking place earlier the same day.[11]

Rotherham demonstration

Pegida UK’s deputy leader Anne Marie Waters said it planned to make a 'silent protest' in the town centre on June 06, 2016, against 'Islamic misogyny and anti-white hatred'. Muslim leaders made a petition to South Yorkshire Police against the demonstration, which was signed by more than 60 men and women, including charity bosses, councillors and business owners. But police said the march will go ahead as 'criteria required to prevent a procession are not met'. [12]

During the demonstration there were around 150 people in one group and 100 in the counter-demonstration that took place. Police reported that the event passed off peacefully. [13]

Tommy Robinson 'launch'

On 3 December 2015 it was reported that English Defence League founder Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, known as 'Tommy Robinson', was to help launch a Pegida UK group. Despite its previous British incarnations, Lennon stated that they were not 'officially sanctioned by Pegida'[14] whereas his group had the backing of the founders of the original PEGIDA movement in Dresden, Germany.

Lennon, who had recently left prison after being convicted of mortgage fraud, told Channel Four News in an interview: 'We have no time for homophobes now. We don't want anyone who hates Jews. We want families. We want moderate Muslims.'[15] Yet at the same time he said he wanted a ban on all Muslim immigration to the UK for five years, to prevent the building of new mosques for five years and a ban on foreign funding of mosques.[16]

New 'leader' Timothy Scott quits after two days

In December 2015, former soldier Timothy Scott who was named by Channel Four News as the new PEGIDA UK leader was ridiculed for giving a 'car-crash' interview in which he was unable to articulate what he stood for or against. He quit the role two days later, calling the interview an 'epic fail' but Lennon reportedly remained with the group.[17]

Paul Weston and Anne Marie Waters

In January 2016, with Robinson facing fresh assault charges, it was announced that he would be handing over leadership of the group to Liberty GB candidate Paul Weston. Leader of Pegida UK Paul Weston was a UKIP candidate in 2010, before leaving for the now-defunct British Freedom Party, and then founding Liberty GB. [18]

It was also announced that UKIP candidate Anne Marie Waters (also the chairwoman of Sharia Watch UK) would take up a role in the senior management of Pegida UK. [19] When Anne Marie Waters announced she would be campaigning with PEGIDA UK in January 2016, she was banned from standing as a candidate for elections for UKIP. It appears, however, that UKIP's party chairman has 'come to an agreement with Ms Waters to remain a loyal UKIP member'. [20]

February 2016 demonstration

The group staged a 'silent walk' through Birmingham on Saturday in opposition to the 'silencing of British people' and the 'rising influence of radical Islam'. [21] About 200 demonstrators gathered for the inaugural Pegida rally in the UK – half as many as expected by police – which took place on an industrial estate miles from the city centre. 60 anti-fascism activists were staging a counter-demonstration, but the demonstration went on peacefully.

Many demonstrators held placards featuring Donald Trump, saying: 'Trump is right' – a possible reference to his controversial call for a halt on Muslim immigration to the US. Others bore placards with an image of Islamic State fighter Mohammed Emwazi, the British man known as Jihadi John, saying: 'Cultural enrichment?' Another poster said: 'Rape culture is being imported'. In the speech he gave, Paul Weston said: 'we’re called fascists and Nazis. But if you look at the ideology of Islam and you look at the ideology of Nazism, they are exactly the same side of the coin', adding that there were thousands of mosques in the UK promoting 'the most dreadful, subversive, violent ideology' to young children. [22]

Local political leaders condemned the group.[23]

Twin demonstrations organised in Calais and Amsterdam both turned violent. French police fired tear gas after about 150 Pegida protesters defied a ban to rally, while the demonstration square had to be shut down in Amsterdam, as explosives experts found what Dutch police called a 'suspect package'. [22]

Pan-European co-ordination

When speaking to a PEGIDA rally in Dresden, Germany, Lennon told the crowd that the UK action would be part of simultaneous demonstration planned for the same day in 12 European countries - including Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Holland, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain and Switzerland as well as the UK - under the slogan 'Save our Country. Save our Culture. Save Our Future.' According to journalist Jamie Bartlett, if it goes ahead it could be 'the first time different Right-wing, anti-immigration street movements have worked together so closely'.[24]


According to the site EDL News, which monitors the English Defence League (EDL), the original admins for Pegida UK's facebook page included several people with known far right affiliations:

Gary Hastings of EDL News concluded that Pegida UK was 'the UK’s far right trying to present a respectable face'.[4]

By the time the group held its first demonstration the following people were described in the media as Pegida spokespeople:


  1. Jamie Bartlett, "Across Europe with Tommy Robinson: inside the new wave of anti-immigration protest coming soon to Britain", Telegraph, 04 December 2015. Accessed 06 October 2016.
  2. Adrian Goldberg, Tommy Robinson: The man behind the British version of Pegida, BBC News, January 29, 2016. Accessed 06 October 2016.
  3. Screengrab of Pegida UK's facebook page on 7 January 2015, Powerbase, 7 January 2015
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Gary Hastings, PEGIDA UK – A MIDDLE CLASS PROTEST GROUP OR A FRONT FOR THE FAR RIGHT?, EDL News, 10 January 2015, accessed 12 January 2015
  5. Kashmira Gander, Pegida movement to hold first UK rally, The Independent, 5 February 2015, accessed 6 February 2015
  6. Pegida UK in Newcastle, and BBC lies!, Indymedia, 28 February 2015
  7. Ian Hughes, Newcastle Pegida rally: RECAP on first UK protest by anti-Islam movement, The Mirror, 28 February 1015
  8. 8.0 8.1 Dominic Smith, Far-right Pegida eclipsed by its opponents at first UK demo, The Guardian, 28 February 2015, accessed 27 March 2015
  9. Chris Marshall, Edinburgh Pegida march had only ‘four participants’, The Scotsman, 21 March 2015
  10. Paul Hutcheon, Pegida chickens out of staging right-wing demo in Scotland Herald Scotland, 22 March 2015.
  11. ALL LONDON ANTI FASCIST BLOC ANNOUNCE ANTI PEGIDA DEMO ON THE 4TH APRIL, EDLNews - Keeping an eye on the far right, 25 March 2015
  12. Dave Doyle, Police has "no powers" to stop Pegida UK march, Rotherham Advisor, 03 JUNE 2016. Accessed 06 October 2016.
  13. Antony Clay, Pegida march passes off peacefully, Rotherham Advisor, 06 JUNE 2016. Accessed 06 October 2016.
  14. Paul Wright, Pegida UK: Birmingham leaders unite to condemn 'far-right' rally organised by Tommy Robinson, International Business Times, 7 December 2015
  15. William Watkinson, UK: Former EDL leader to help launch anti-Islam movement Pegida in Britain, International Business Times, 3 December 2015
  16. Rose Troup Buchanan, Former EDL leader Tommy Robinson will launch UK Pegida, The Independent, 3 December 2015
  17. Steven Hopkins, Pegida UK Leader Timothy Scott Quits After 'Epic Fail' Channel 4 interview, 'Confirms He Does Not Have PTSD', Huffington Post, 5 December 2015
  18. Lizzie Dearden, Former Ukip candidate and Pegida UK leader says 'Muslims should not hold political power' and claims Syrian refugees do not exist, The Independent, 5 February 2016, Accessed 05 October 2016.
  19. Pegida Tommy Robinson reveals new leaders,, accessed 7 January 2015
  20. ALIX CULBERTSON, UKIP bans candidate for heading up British wing of anti-mass migration PEGIDA group, Express, January 14 2016. Accessed 05 October 2016.
  21. Lizzie Dearden, Former Ukip candidate and Pegida UK leader says 'Muslims should not hold political power' and claims Syrian refugees do not exist, The Independent, 05 February 2016. Accessed 05 October 2016.
  22. 22.0 22.1 Josh Halliday, Pegida UK supporters stage anti-Islam silent march in Birmingham, The Guardian, 06 February 2016. Accessed 05 October 2016.
  23. Paul Wright, Pegida UK: Birmingham leaders unite to condemn 'far-right' rally organised by Tommy Robinson, International Business Times, 7 December 2015
  24. Jamie Bartlett, Across Europe with Tommy Robinson: inside the new wave of anti-immigration protest coming soon to Britain, The Telegraph, 4 December 2015
  25. Shane Croucher, Pegida UK promoter Matthew Pope wants Islam banned and has far-right links, IBTimes, 12 February 2015
  26. 'Anti-Islamisation' group Pegida UK holds Newcastle march, BBC News Online, 28 February 2015, accessed 27 March 2015