PEGIDA leader resigns after Hitler photo scandal

Leader of Germany’s anti-Islam movement announces his resignation after photo scandal

Leader of Germany’s anti-Islam movement announces his resignation after photo scandal

BERLIN – The leader of Germany’s anti-Islam movement PEGIDA announced his resignation on Wednesday amid a row over a photo in which he was dressed as Adolf Hitler.

Lutz Bachmann told the German daily newspaper Bild that he was resigning his position as chairman of the Patriotic Europeans Against Islamization of the West, or PEGIDA.

“Yes, I am stepping down as the chairman,” Bachmann said.

PEGIDA’s spokeswoman, Kathrin Oertel, confirmed Bachmann’s resignation in a statement she made to the German news agency DPA.

Bachmann, 41, drew widespread criticism on Wednesday due to a photo he posted on Facebook, in which he was dressed as Adolf Hitler with a moustache resembling the leader of Nazi Germany.

Bachmann claimed that the photo was a joke.

Earlier today, the public prosecutor in the eastern city of Dresden opened a hate crime probe into Bachmann’s Facebook posts.

PEGIDA made headlines in Germany and abroad after the group started weekly protests in Dresden in October with about 500 demonstrators. It has significantly increased its support base within the last three months.

More than 25,000 people took to the streets in Dresden on Jan. 12 in the aftermath of the attack on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris in which 12 people were killed.

PEGIDA has organized 12 rallies in Dresden to date.

It cancelled a planned demonstration in Dresden last Monday due to a concrete "terrorism threat," the organizers said.

PEGIDA’s  followers are set to stage a major rally in Leipzig on Wednesday night.

Organizers said more than 30,000 protestors are expected to attend the rally.

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