PEGIDA Leader Bachmann Steps Down After Hitler-Style Photo
The leader of Germany’s “anti-Islamisation” movement PEGIDA has stepped down after newspapers published a photo showing him apparently posing with Hitler-style toothbrush moustache.
In its online edition, Germany’s Dresdner Morgenpost newspaper reproduced a picture which it claimed was from Bachmann’s Facebook profile showing him posing in the style of Adolf Hitler.
In the picture, Bachmann was also sporting a hairstyle reminiscent of the Nazi dictator. At first, he claimed that the image was a joke but he deleted his profile shortly after being contacted by Dresdner Morgenpost.
The image was allegedly posted by Bachmann about two months before PEGIDA came to prominence with its first major marches in September.
Dresdner Morgenpost also quoted what it claimed were social media messages from Bachmann saying asylum seekers acted like "scumbags" at welfare offices.
The “Hitler” picture has also appeared in Germany’s mass-circulation daily newspaper Bild, and Bachmann has not denied that it was posted on his page.
PEGIDA's marches co-organiser Kathrin Oertel told newswires that Bachmann was resigning from his posts in the group. Bachmann later confirmed to Bild he was stepping down as PEGIDA chairman.
German politicians were quick in their reaction.
"Anyone involved in politics who is posing as Hitler is either something of an idiot, or a Nazi," said Deputy Chancellor Siegmar Gabriel, the Social Democrat leader.
Meanwhile, German prosecutors opened a criminal investigation into comments allegedly made by Bachmann via Facebook. According to the prosecutors, the comments were inciting racial hatred.
Dresden-based PEGIDA, an acronym in German for Patriotische Europaer gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West), has been holding street protests against what it sees as a dangerous rise in the influence of Islam over European countries.
The group’s weekly march in Dresden was cancelled on Monday following an alleged terror threat against Bachmann.
Police banned all rallies in the city after saying it had been informed of an apparent call to kill the movement’s leader.
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