The founder of Germany’s anti-Islamist Pegida party is set to go on trial on hate speech charges.
Lutz Bachmann is accused of inciting racial hatred through a series of Facebook posts, in which he called refugees “cattle” and “trash”.
The 43-year-old’s trial in Dresden will be held amid tight security.
Pegida’s rallies have attracted thousands of supporters in Germany. The movement has spread to numerous countries since launching in 2014.
The group was prominent in demonstrations in Cologne in January after reports of sexual assaults against women in the city on New Year’s Eve.
The attacks were largely blamed on people from North Africa who entered Germany illegally or have sought asylum. No trials involving suspects from the Cologne assaults have taken place.
Pegida’s anti-immigration demonstrations have often been met by counter protests.
The court says Mr Bachmann “disrupted public order” through his comments, which constituted an “attack on the dignity” of refugees.
If found guilty, he could face between three months and five years in prison.
- Acronym for Patriotische Europaer Gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West)
- Umbrella group for German right-wingers, attracting support from mainstream conservatives to neo-Nazi factions and football hooligans
- Holds street protests against what it sees as a dangerous rise in the influence of Islam over European countries
- Claims not to be racist or xenophobic
- 19-point manifesto says the movement opposes extremism and calls for protection of Germany’s Judeo-Christian culture
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