Anti-Islamist PEGIDA surfaces in Switzerland

An anti-Islamic movement that id growing in Germany has established a Swiss wing and is planning a demonstration in the wealthy Alpine country next month.

Geneva: An anti-Islamic movement that id growing in Germany has established a Swiss wing and is planning a demonstration in the wealthy Alpine country next month.

The Swiss wing was launched late last week, taking the name of Germany`s "Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident" (PEGIDA).

It announced on its Facebook page it would organise a demonstration at an undisclosed location in Switzerland on February 16.

A counter demonstration has already been announced for the same day.

Germany`s PEGIDA has seen soaring support as it rides a wave of fear and revulsion at last week`s killings of 17 people in France by Islamic extremists.

Last week the German PEGIDA wing drew a record 18,000 people and it has said it hopes even more people will turn out for a rally Monday evening in Dresden.

Over the weekend some 35,000 people in Germany turned out for counter protests against the group.

The Swiss wing is headed by around a dozen anonymous committee members, with only their spokesman known by name: Ignaz Bearth.

Bearth is the current head of the Swiss Direct Democracy Party, a small party with links to France`s Front National party, and a former member of the far-right Swiss Nationalist Party.

The Swiss Facebook page on Monday afternoon counted only 3,420 `likes`, compared to almost 5,000 for the counter #No Pegida Schweiz page.

The new PEGIDA group presented a 14-point programme, including calling for a ban on wearing full-face and body covering burkas in Switzerland and on imam visits to schools.