Pegida leader forcibly stopped during attempted Quran burning in Arnhem, officers also attacked

Pegida leader Edwin Wagensveld was attacked by counter-demonstrators at a demonstration in Arnhem on Saturday when he wanted to burn a Quran. The incident took place on Jansplein in the city center. Arnhem mayor Ahmed Marcouch told the ANP news agency that Wagensveld was injured, as were several police officers. They were pelted with fireworks and stones. It is not known what type of injuries are involved.

Wagensveld had announced in advance that he wanted to burn a Koran on the Jansplein in the city on behalf of Pegida. The action of the anti-Islam movement led to unrest in the Muslim community. Dozens of people came to the city center of Arnhem on Saturday for a counter-demonstration. When they refused to go to the nearby Willemsplein, the place designated by the municipality, Marcouch announced an emergency order and the riot police intervened.

To ensure Wagensveld’s safety, the police took him away. A little later he returned to the square to burn a Koran. On images social media it can be seen that he is holding the book above a fire pit, whereupon he and surrounding officers are attacked by several counter-demonstrators. “Then we finally disbanded the demonstration,” said Marcouch.


Three people have now been arrested for the violence towards Wagensveld and the police. Marcouch says he cannot rule out multiple arrests in the coming days. He condemns the aggression of the counter-protesters: “I understand the sadness and emotion that the burning of a holy book evokes. But violence is unacceptable. You have to fight ideas with ideas.”

Wagensveld is the founder of the Dutch branch of the originally German Pegida, an anti-Islamic movement. He himself was arrested several times during usually provocative demonstrations by the group. He was also sentenced to forty hours of community service in November for insulting a group after he called the Koran a fascist book.