Pegida leader steps down over Hitler photo
Lutz Bachmann, the founder of Pegida, has resigned his leadership of the anti-Islam group following widespread outrage over Facebook photos of him in an Adolf Hitler costume.
Bachmann said he wanted to apologize “sincerely to all citizens who felt attacked by his posts” in a statement published on Pegida's Facebook page on Wednesday.
The picture from earlier this year, which showed Bachmann with the Nazi leader's trademark side parting and toothbrush moustache, was captioned “he's back!”.
He added that the photo was an “ill-considered statement” he would no longer make today.
“I am sorry to have damaged the interests of our movement, and I am facing the consequences,” Bachmann wrote.
It was reiterated in the statement that the photo was in response to the satirical novel "He's Back" by Timur Vernes, which imagines Hitler waking up 66 years after his supposed death and walking through Berlin's Mitte district.
Bachmann posted the photo on Christoph Maria Herbste's wall, who voiced the audio version of the book.
“The Hitler selfie posted on Christoph Maria Herbst's wall as the voice talent for Timur Vermes‘ “He's Back” was satire, which every citizen is allowed.
"But offending people across the board is not”, Pegida spokesperson Kathrin Oertel wrote in the same statement,
She praised anti-Islam leader's many “achievements”, chief of them “inspiring tens of thousands” to participate in the weekly marches in Dresden, organized by the group, whose name stands for "Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the West."
Oertel was previously quoted in an interview with blu-News saying Pegida was concerned about Muslims making “demands on German society” that threatened the German way of life.
The group has repeatedly denied it is a racist, far-right extremist group – which Oertel said on Wednesday the rest of Germany was starting to realize “since the weekend”.
Bachmann last made headlines on Monday when the weekly Pegida march was cancelled after authorities said there was a "credible" jihadist threat on the organizer's life.