Thousands take part in pro-refugee rallies in Europe

Saturday’s rallies urge solidarity with the huge numbers of refugees entering the continent.

A man holds a placard with a photograph in Athens
Tens of thousands of people attended the rally in London [EPA]

Tens of thousands of protesters have gathered in capitals of Denmark and the UK to protest against their government’s position on the refugee crisis, as other demonstrations were planned in Germany, Spain, France and elsewhere. 

Danish police estimated that 30,000 people had gathered outside the Danish parliament building in Copenhagen on Saturday, shouting “Refugees are welcome”.

Saturday’s peaceful protest came after Denmark said on Friday that it had already accepted its fair share of asylum seekers and would not take part in a proposal by the EU Commission to take a share of another 160,000 refugees.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Britons rallied in central London, urging their government to do more to help Syrian refugees at a demonstration that was due to be attended by newly elected Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Several thousand people could be seen marching through central London to Prime Minister David Cameron’s office, brandishing placards reading: “Open the Borders” and “Refugees In, Tories Out”.

Al Jazeera’s Barnaby Phillips, reporting from the protest, said the “thousands upon thousands” of protesters were saying that Britain should do much more.

“It’s a solidarity message but the question is, to what extent does this crowd stand for Britain as a whole,” our correspondent said.

“This rally is making clear that the government is wrong in their stance towards refugees,” one of the protesters, Dusan Petkovic, told the AFP news agency.

Cameron had a belated change of heart on letting in more Syrian refugees as the crisis in Europe escalated and last week agreed to take in 20,000 people over five years.

More than 14,000 people claimed asylum in Denmark last year and it expects 20,000 this year. Neighbouring Sweden took in over 80,000 refugees last year and expects the same number this year.

Denmark has opt-outs to the EU Justice and Home Affairs rules, so it is not obligated to participate.

Meanwhile, hundreds of other people rallied in support of refugees in Dublin, Ireland, Budapest in Hungary and The Hague in the Netherlands.

Source: News Agencies