Thousands gather to oppose Pegida demo

Supporters of "anti-Islamisation" group Pegida gathered to demonstrate in Malmö Monday evening, but were vastly outnumbered by counter-demonstrators.

News agency TT reported that a handful of Pegida supporters made their way through throngs of booing counter-demonstrators at around 6.30 p.m. - the start-time of the rally, which ended at 9 p.m.

Later, TT reported that 50 supporters were present at the demonstration on the Stortorget square in Malmö's city centre, where they listened to speeches by organisers Henrik Rönnquist and Dan Park - a gallerist and street artist who have previously been convicted of incitement to racial hatred.

"What's most important is all those people who have been in touch with us in the past few days and who support us but were too afraid to come," Rönnqvist told TT before his speech.

According to newspaper Sydsvenskan, police estimated that 3,000 counter-demonstrators surrounded the fenced-off area on Stortorget. 

“We’re here so that they won’t be unopposed,” Maja Skans of the No Pegida Sweden group told TT.

The Malmö Pegida rally was organised through a closed Facebook group which has attracted supporters of the Sweden Democrats, the neo-Nazi Party of the Swedes and the publication Dispatch International, according to newspaper Dagens ETC.

Swedish Radio's P4 Malmöhus station reported Monday that representatives of the Church of Sweden have received threats over the past few days after announcing they would let church bills ring in Malmö's S:t Petri Church in protest against the Pegida rally.

Pegida, which stands for Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the West, has held several demonstrations in Germany in the past few months, attracting thousands to marches in different cities. At the same time, hundreds of thousands of people around Germany have also participated in protests against Pegida and for tolerance and multiculturalism.