The Anti-Islam Group Pegida Held Its First Protest In Canada

The anti-Islam movement Pegida held its first demonstration in Canada Saturday in front of the Ontario legislature in Toronto, where they were met by almost 100 anti-racist counter-demonstrators.

The dozen or so Pegida protesters who gathered at Queen’s Park held signs that equated Islam with terrorism and mocked the Prophet Muhammad, and were separated from the counter-demonstrators by a line of police who at times struggled to maintain calm.

The Pegida protesters gave speeches and sang songs, but were easily drowned out by their opponents.

ishmael daro

Pegida speaker’s speech drowned out by “refugees in, islamophobes out.”

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The demonstration ended when some anti-racism protesters pushed through and knocked down part of the canopy tent under which Pegida members had gathered, chanting “Nazi scum, off our streets!”

ishmael daro

At Pegida protest at Queens Park, counter demonstrators pushed through police line, ending protest.

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Police managed to lead the outnumbered Pegida people away to safety as the larger group cheered in victory.

“Go back to your Facebook group,” someone jeered.

The movement’s Canadian Facebook page boasts about 5,500 fans — a number that is growing by the day. A Pegida march in Montreal this spring was cancelled at the last minute when it became clear the group would be heavily outnumbered by counter-demonstrators.

Pegida started in the German city of Dresden in late 2014, growing from small “evening strolls” by a handful of people to marches attended by tens of thousands following the Charlie Hebdo attacks in France.

Its name is a German acronym that translates to “Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West.”

Offshoots have grown in several other European countries, including in the U.K., and there are now Canadian and American groups that have adopted the same name and anti-Islam positions. The movement, which appeared to be losing steam earlier this year, has found renewed energy with the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean that has brought hundreds of thousands of Syrians and other refugees into the European Union.

Pegida Canada describes itself online as a “group of like minded Canadians that are bringing awareness to the people in regards to the Islamic threat to our great country.”

The group denies that it is a white supremacist movement, and claims to have people on its board of directors who are of Metis and Indo-Canadian descent.

The group also says it supports “genuine” refugees fleeing war or persecution, but demands that refugees assimilate into “our Christian-Judeo based culture.”

BuzzFeed Canada has asked Pegida Canada for comment.

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Ishmael Daro is a social news editor for BuzzFeed and is based in Toronto.

Contact Ishmael N. Daro at

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