‘Stop asylum nonsense!’ Anti-refugee rally in small Dutch town erupts in violence (VIDEOS)
A mass anti-immigration rally in the Netherlands has erupted into violence after riot police moved in to disperse a 1,000-strong march against the opening of a refugee center in the town of Heesch.
Protesters shot fireworks and threw flares at riot police who attempted to disperse a crowd of an estimated 1,000 people marching on the local town hall. The protesters took to the streets as officials held a meeting on Monday to discuss plans of accommodating some 500 refugees over the next 10 years.
Far right activists tried to storm the local government headquarters, forcing local officials to abandon their scheduled debate and evacuate the premises. The town “had given police extra powers” after a “demonstration ran out of control,” said a message from the mayor, Marieke Moorman, posted on the town's website.
Authorities did not immediately announce the number of those detained or possibly injured in clashes.
The demo began peacefully at around 6:00pm GMT. Protesters carried signs bearing slogans such as “stop the asylum nonsense!” the crowd marched to the town hall, where the building was eventually pelted with eggs.
Clashes erupted hours after notorious far-right politician Geert Wilders demanded that male Muslim migrants be locked up in asylum centers, justifying the move as a measure of protection for Dutch women after the New Year's Eve assaults in Cologne, Germany. Anti-migrant activists took the video message of the head of the Freedom Party (PVV) seriously, and moved quickly to organize an event via Facebook.
Police officers urged the crowd to disperse and called for riot-geared backup to take control of the situation and clear the square in front of the city hall by 7:30pm.
Protesters insist that 500 asylum seekers is a disproportionally high number for a town of some 12,500 people, urging authorities to scrap their plans for refugee resettlement.