PEGIDA protesters clash with police during rally in northern Belgium

Protestors hold a banner during a march organized by Belgian branch of the German xenophobic and anti-Islamic 'Pegida' movement on April 23, 2016, in Antwerp © Luc Claessen

Activists from the anti-Islamic PEGIDA movement in Belgium’s northern city of Antwerp have clashed with police, local media reported, adding that at least one protester was arrested for performing a Nazi salute.

At least 400 of the PEGIDA supporters staged a demonstration against opening borders for asylum seekers in Hendrik Conscience Square in the city center on Saturday evening, Flemish media reported.

“With this march we want …to close borders [for refugees] and we demand to stop Islam,” one of the protesters told Nieuwsblad newspaper. “It is clear what Islam is capable of…. Our lives are in danger.”

After several speeches the procession passed through the city and started clashing with local police officers. Reports say one of the demonstrators smashed his flag against a shop window and broke it.

A man was arrested during the protest after he tried to confront the demonstrators with an ax, local media reported.

Many of the demonstrators were carrying the flag of the Flemish Community and Flemish Region in Belgium.

PEGIDA’s anti-migrant demonstrations have been marked by violence in the past, with some ending in scuffles with police.

In February, tens of thousands of people supporting the PEGIDA movement marched through cities spanning 14 European countries, including Germany, France, the UK, and the Czech Republic, among others, to protest against the entry of migrants and refugees into the EU from the Middle East. Counter-protests, clashes with police, and arrests took place, despite the ban on some of the rallies declared by the authorities beforehand.

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