Founder of Germany’s far-right Pegida fined for inciting hatred
BERLIN – Agence France-PresseThe founder of Germany’s xenophobic and anti-Islamic Pegida movement was May 3 convicted of inciting racial hatred and fined nearly 10,000 euros for branding refugees “cattle” and “scum” on social media.
Lutz Bachmann, founder of the far-right “Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the Occident” movement, was ordered to pay 9,600 euros ($11,000) over the widely-shared Facebook posts.
Judge Hans Hlavka told the court in the eastern city of Dresden it was “clear” that Bachmann was responsible for the comments on the social network and that his insults could not be considered as free speech.
The defense said it will appeal the decision while prosecutors who had demanded a seven-month jail sentence said they may do the same.
The Pegida movement bitterly opposes Chancellor Angela Merkel’s liberal migration policy that brought more than one million asylum seekers to Germany last year.
Bachmann, 43, who called the court case a “political show trial,” made a defiant appearance when the trial started a week earlier, wearing a pair of glasses that mimicked the black bars printed over people’s eyes in censored photos.
His defense lawyer Katja Reichel insisted Bachmann had not written the offending words, and that his Facebook account may have been “hacked.”
However, the court also watched video footage of a Pegida rally in January 2015 where Bachmann appeared to be defending the Facebook comments, saying he had merely “used words that everyone has used at least once.”
Pegida rallies at that time peaked at around 25,000 people, but interest then began to wane following wide coverage of Bachmann’s overtly-racist comments and the surfacing of “selfies” in which he sported a Hitler-style moustache and hairstyle.