Knowing that Birmingham is a hot bed of Islamism, and is troubled by rampant police Islamopandering made me, it must be said, a little nervous about what to expect. Even though I am a seasoned veteran of many marches and demonstrations when I was a man of the Left, I still felt a little trepidation about attending. I expected the sort of heavy and aggressive police presence that you’d find at a 1980’s West Ham vs Millwall football match along with elements of the violent, thuggish Left.
What I found ran very much counter to any of my negative expectations. Firstly the ‘opposition’ such as it was, consisted of dozen or so hard-left activists who looked like they had some connection with the Socialist Workers Party. They were waving posters saying ‘never again’, which bearing in mind the far-lefts close association with Jew-hating Islamists, is a monstrous and insulting misappropriation of the promise made by many after the Holocaust. Yes there was a heavy police presence with the usual helicopters, riot suited back up and forward intelligence teams that you expect on a contentious demo, but on this occasion the police seemed to behave themselves.
As to the march itself, well I must say that it was an impressive turnout for a first demo on a very wet February morning. From my position about 1/3rd of the way down the march, I looked around and it seemed to me that there was at least 500/600 people there, maybe more but certainly not as low as some of the ‘enemy media’ may put it. Having put on demonstrations myself I know how difficult is to get people to turn out for a launch demo, and this number is a good achievement.
As to the crowd well it was the same cross section of people who are worried about Islam that you may expect to find. There was black and white, men and women, a couple of people with Israeli flags and rainbow flags. It certainly was not an all white affair nor was it an all male one.
Bearing in mind the rain I was thankful that we were marshalling up underneath the airport light rail bridge, it provided some degree of shelter whilst we were all hanging about. I did wonder whether or not Mr Tommy Robinson’s plea for people to respect the concept of march by the silently angry would be respected, but I was pleasantly surprised that it was.
There was something deeply moving about seeing such a large number of people, united in their fear of and disgust for an ideology that gives us all lot to fear about, marching silently, in a determined manner to the rally point. Without the shadow of doubt the silent marching idea worked and may well attract those people who are worried about what is going on, but who don’t want to stand with people shouting slogans that they might or might not agree with.
Some may have questioned the idea of not rallying in the city centre and meeting in what is the middle of an industrial estate but it has turned out to be an inspired one. Meeting in this venue meant that the march could to a certain extent be shielded from the violent far left and even more violent extreme Muslims, violence that would inevitably be blamed by a left-leaning press on PEGIDA.
The speeches by Paul Weston, Tommy Robinson and Anne-Marie Waters were eloquent and well informed, but what moved me was the ex Muslim speaker. Some may indeed have questioned the presence of a Pakistani flag on the podium, but this speaker explained all. There may have been people in the audience who may have been unaware of the problems that face Britain’s ex Muslims, who have just as much right to leave Islam as everyone else has the right to choose or reject any religion they wish. He spoke for the ex-Muslim Christians who have endured much violence from the Islamic community and emphasised that Muslims need to be British first and Muslim second.
This was a peaceful, dignified rally and march that attracted more attendees than I expected from a first in a series of marches. Everyone behaved themselves and that is what is needed if PEGIDA is to grow beyond the political and theological anoraks such as myself and attract many more normal people. In fact I’d go as far to say that PEGIDA is already attracting ordinary people, the sort who don’t normally ‘do’ demos, if my own observations are correct.
I believe that as more British individuals learn for themselves what Islam is all about and as they come up against the more negative aspects of Islam, so will attendance and support grow.
I’m very glad I marched with PEGIDA, I’m proud to have been at the first demo and I’m going to be there, same place same time I believe, at the next demonstration in April, and to the subsequent ones after that.
Well done to all those who organised, stewarded and marched at the weekend. Let’s make this movement grow and let’s stand up for our nation, our cultures and our children.