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Far-right groups stage anti-Islam rally in Denmark

Far-right groups stage anti-Islam rally in Denmark

Hundreds of far-right sympathizers from northern Europe demonstrated in Denmark Saturday against what they called the Islamization of Europe, as police tried to keep them apart from a larger group of counter-protesters.
Police said about half a dozen counter-demonstrators were detained after they tried to break through police lines separating them from the anti-Islamic rally in Aarhus, Denmark's second largest city.
Police said about 200 to 300 people from Denmark, Britain, Germany, Sweden and Poland took part in the rally billed as a "European counter-jihad meeting," while about 2,500 people marched in the counter-demonstration under the banner "Aarhus For Diversity."
The anti-Islam rally started with a moment of silence for the seven people killed by an al-Qaida-inspired gunman in France. Many of the demonstrators covered their faces with masks or scarves.
Among the speakers was Tommy Robinson, the head of the English Defense League, a far-right group that has staged rowdy protests in Britain, and has inspired smaller offshoots in a number of European countries.
The defense leagues and other counter-jihadist groups that have sprung up in Europe in recent years to distance themselves from neo-Nazis and say they don't accept racism or anti-Semitism. Opponents say they are just a new manifestation of xenophobia in Europe, targeting Muslims instead of Jews.
Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian gunman who confessed to slaughtering 77 people last July, cited the English Defense League and other counter-jihadist groups in the anti-Muslim manifesto he released before the killing spree. Those groups have condemned his actions and dismissed him as a lunatic.
Mari Linolkken traveled from Norway to join the counter-demonstration in Aarhus, 200 kilometers (125 miles) northwest of Copenhagen, saying she felt compelled to stand up against the far-right movement after what her own country had gone through with Breivik's attacks.
"The English Defense League, Danish Defense League, the Stop Islamization of Europe _ we have experienced what their ideology means in practice," she said.
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Associated Press writer Louise Nordstrom in Stockholm contributed to this report.