Anti-Islam, refugee hate speeches lead PEGIDA leader to court

PEGIDA leader Lutz Bachmann summoned by German court on hate speech charges for describing refugees as ‘cattle’ and ‘scum’

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Lutz Bachmann, leader of the PEGIDA movement (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident) speaks to protestors during a rally in Leipzig on March 7, 2016.

A German court summoned the leader of the far-right group PEGIDA on Monday on hate speech charges for describing refugees as "cattle" and "scum."

The far-right PEGIDA group leader, 43-year-old, Lutz Bachmann was charged with inciting hatred in October for a series of widely shared posts on PEGIDA’s official Facebook page, which stands for "Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident."

A court date has been set for April, with two further hearings in May.

The court said the PEGIDA leader’s comments “disrupted public order” and constituted an “attack on [the refugees’] dignity.”

The far-right group, found in October 2014, is known for its xenophobic Facebook group.

People gather for an anti-immigration demonstration organised by PEGIDA in Dresden / Photo by Reuters

At the beginning only a few hundred people from the group sympathised and gathered to show their anti-Islam and anti-refugee demonstrations in the eastern city of Dresden, before gaining strength and peaking with turnouts of over 25,000 people.

Interest subsequently began to wane following Bachmann's overtly racist comments and the surfacing of "selfies" in which he sported a Hitler-style moustache and hairstyle.

The group has made a comeback amid the massive refugee influx European countries are facing.

On the other hand, another far-right group, the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, made surprise gains in regional polls during the weekend, which was widely seen as a protest vote against Chancellor Angela Merkel's open-door policy on refugees.

The refugees are mostly coming from war-torn countries particularly from Syria that mainly aim to reach Germany, Austria and Scandinavian countries.

According to the International Organisation of Migration (IOM) report that was published on March 11, 146,652 refugee arrived by sea in 2016 and 455 were found dead or are missing in 2016.

The IOM also stated that 1,011,712 refugee arrived in 2015.

TRTWorld and agencies