Steve Hastie has been going to Newcastle United games since 1967. He went for the first time when he was 7 years old and hasn’t walked away since. He witnessed two second place finishes and 3 relegations. He saw Paul Gascoigne, Alan Shearer and Dietmar Hamann. He went through ups und downs with his team. “More downs then ups”, he says. But nothing has Steve Hastie more disturbed then this strange group that wants to demonstrate in Newcastle on Saturday, prior to a match of his club: Pegida.
While the Dresdner anti-Islamic movement only manages to bring a fraction of their former supporters on the road, they are expanding to other countries. They are also in the UK now. They call themselves Pegida UK and have invited everyone for their first demonatration this Saturday. Some people like this. For example the 800 people that joined the event on Facebook. Many more people however want to fight it, for example Steve Hastie and his friends from Newcastle United.
The supporters association NUFC Fans United published the statement Not In Our City. They wrote: “There is the fear that fans of Newcastle United, of Islamic faith, are being singled out and insulted (…) What kind of message does this event sent to those that came to our Universities to study or the tourists that visit our town? (…) This event is unaceptable and not welcome in the streets of Newcastle.”
“Our jerseys are black and white”
These crystal clear words are remarkable. At best, German soccer fans always remained passive with regards to Pegida. When 25,000 people took to the streets in Dresden in December to protest against the alleged Islamisation of the West, hooligans and fans of the football club Dynamo were at the forefront. They even acted as a kind of anti-riot. There was no visible action of German soccer fans against the xenophobic ideas of Pegida or its offshoots in other cities.
England shows a different picture. Even before the first demonstration the people of Newcastle and especially their football fans act. “We don’t want Pegida” days Hastie “how could we: our jerseys are black and white”.
Model for Hogesa
Hastie says, after Pegida announced the demonstrations, many fans with Asian or African decent, went to the fan association and told them: “This is wrong”. Maybe Pegida hoped for support of the fans “but that does not fit together”, says Hastie. “How can a football fan talk about islamisation and then a few our later celebrate his heroes at the stadium, among them are four or five Muslims”, says Hastie.
Sure, there are NUFC Fans, that support Pegida UK and their ideas, says Hastie. Racism is a problem in English football too. A few years ago the English Defence league (EDL) was founded, which attracted many Hooligans. They were a model for the German Hooligan group “Hogesa”, whose assembly escalated in Cologne in October. Only recently, Chelsea fans urged a black man man from the subway in Paris, while singing a racist song. The outrage was great and even the UN commented on it.
Pegida UK has around 17,000 likes on its Facebook page. Many from Germany. The movement leans heavily on its German originals. The 19 theses presented by Pegida in Dresden apply here too. According to British Media reports, the organiser of Pegida UK is a 29 year old social worker named Matt Pope. Pope describes himself as a very liberal person.
Of course, a Newcastle jersey does not prevent a person from supporting Pegida, says Hastie. But for each of those fans, there would be at least 5 that reject those ideas. And that’s what we wanted to show. The reactions to the ‘No Thanks’ statement of Newcastle United supporters were "very positive". The British Media reported it, politicians congratulated them, there were responses from Argentina and reports in Spain and Greece.
600 against 3,000
The fans could not prevent the assembly of Pegida. However many of them will be there on Saturday as part of a counter demonstration with representatives of the Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Hindu and Sikh communities that come together in a movement called Newcastle Unites.
Steve Hastie will be there too. He expects 600 supporters and more than 3,000 people demonstrating against Pegida UK. Many of the counter-demonstrators will go to the match afterwards. Hastie says: “we'd prefer it if Pegida had not chosen to come to Newcastle at all, never mind pick a day when Newcastle United play.”
The original article by Christian Spiller, appeared on 27.02.2015 and was translated for NUFC Fans Utd by Anja Böehme.