German citizen Lutz Bachmann, leader of PEGIDA (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West) movement, was charged by German prosecutors for “incitement” against refugees because of several of his Facebook posts.
He faces trial in Dresden on April 19, which the district court confirmed.
Bachmann, who co-founded Pegida, retorts that the trial is “purely politically motivated,” in order to discredit him and his group.
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In German, Pegida stands for “Patriotische Europaer Gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes.” The group devised a 19-point manifesto, which includes defending “Judeo-Christian” values.
Pegida supporters throughout Europe argue, “Islam is a fascist ideology … We are not an anti-Muslim group. We feel Muslims are victims of Islam.”
Pegida initially began holding weekly protests in Dresden in 2014. Its protests and demonstrations expanded to Berlin, Cologne, Duisburg, Hannover, Munich, and Stuttgart. In December, 2014, its first protest included roughly 17,000 people. By January, 2015, more than 35,000 people were demonstrating at one single event.
This January several thousand once again took to the streets in Dresden, to protest a government that refuses to listen to its people and imported more than one million Islamists into Germany in one year alone. With these migrants, crime has increased exponentially, including sexual assaults and robberies.
Some label Pegida members a “hate group” and “racist” — including German Chancellor Angela Merkel. In her 2015 New Year’s address, Merkel described tens of thousands of German citizens as having “hatred in their hearts.” She accused Pegida leaders of “prejudice, coldness and hatred,” claiming they “hijacked and abused” political slogans.
One of the slogans they chant is, “wir sind das Volk” (we are the people). Using this slogan is deliberate– it was what former East Germans shouted during the 1989 anti-communist protests.
In line with the anti-communist sentiment, in response to censorship and Merkel’s expressed hostility towards Germans, Bachmann posted online a selfie wearing an Adolf Hitler style mustache, which went viral on social media.
Pegida members express they are most concerned about preserving and protecting German culture and that they are tired of establishment politicians. Germany’s Pegida members have inspired other Pegida groups to emerge in England, Norway, and Denmark.