Several hundred protesters gathered at a ‘Refugees Welcome’ rally here in Ljubljana today to show their solidarity with the migrants entering Europe and to demand an end to what they call the racist immigration policies by many European Union member states.
The gathering, organized by the Anti-Racist Front Without Borders, a loosely-knit coalition of several individuals and groups, was much larger than I and many others who took part anticipated. Participants chanted slogans decrying the xenophobia and fear tactics employed by many who oppose allowing the refugees, most of whom are fleeing the choas in Syria, to enter or settle in the EU.
The rally and march, which went on for about three hours and slowed traffic in several spots as it weaved its way along many of the Slovenian capital’s main streets, was peaceful but did involve one minor clash early on.
As the rally was beginning in the central Prešeren Square, two counter-demonstrators climbed a stairway of the square’s Franciscan church shouting at the demonstrators and carrying anti-migrant signs. (See images below.) One read “Europe is a Christian continent” and the other “Stop the Islamization of Europe”. Just as the first sign was torn out of the man’s hand by two demonstrators, the crowd began chanting “Nazis raus”, or “Nazis out”. The pair left shortly thereafter.
Ljubljana mayor Zoran Janković joined the rally and told organizers that the city is already prepared for the arrival of 190 refugees.