Several thousand people turned out for an open-air concert in Denmark's second city of Aarhus on Wednesday to protest against a far-right anti-Islam rally planned for March 31, officials said.
Aarhus city officials said they organised the concert as a way of showing the city's tolerance and because "Aarhus does not want to be associated with extremist groups" that represent "everything we want to distance ourselves from." Around 5,000 people attended Wednesday's concert, a spokesman for the mayor's office said.
Far-right groups from across Europe are scheduled to meet in Aarhus on March 31 for an anti-Islam rally organised by the Danish Defence League, a sister organisation of the English Defence League.
A spokesman for the Danish group, Philip Traulsen, said the programme for the meeting had not been confirmed but that it would deal with "the obvious problems caused by radical Islam." In an email to AFP, he said some 300 to 1,000 people were expected to attend the rally, which he said would "probably be the biggest anti-Islam demonstration on Danish soil."
A counter-demonstration organised by the group "Aarhus for Diversity" was to be held at the same time in the town of 315,000 people, located on the Jutland peninsula north of Germany.
Local police, who have requested reinforcements, "will be present en masse", eastern Jutland police official Mogens Broendum said. But shopowners have expressed concern and a number of restaurants have already indicated they plan to close on the day of the rally, he said.