German founder of anti-Islamist Pegida to speak in Limerick

Lutz Bachmann invited to address conference organised by anti-immigrant group

Lutz Bachmann, co-leader of anti-immigration group PEGIDA, a German abbreviation for “Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the West”. Photograph: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

Lutz Bachmann, co-leader of anti-immigration group PEGIDA, a German abbreviation for “Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the West”. Photograph: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

 

From Barry Roche, Southern Correspondent, Cork 27 May 2016

The controversial German founder of the anti-Islamist group, Pegida, Lutz Bachmann has accepted an invitation from an Irish anti-immigrant group to speak in Limerick next month.

According to Identity Ireland, two of its founders Peter O’Loughlin and Alan Tighe attended a conference organised by anti-immigration group, Fortress Europe in Prague earlier this month.

Identity Ireland then extended an invitation to Pegida as a fellow member of Fortress Europe to attend a conference in Limerick and Mr Bachmann has accepted the invite.

“Mr Bachmann has said he looks forward to coming to Ireland and wants to experience the unique Irish hospitality which has been abused for far too long by the liberal cabal,” said Identity Ireland.

No venue or date has been disclosed yet for the event being organised by Identity Ireland which earlier this year invited founder of the English Defence League, Tommy Robinson to speak in Cork.

Mr Bachmann is a controversial figure in his native Germany, having founded Pegida - Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the West - in his home town of Dresden in October 2014.

He originally founded the organisation to protest at the establishment of 14 refugee centres in the Dresden area and the group began holding a series of weekly protests against the centres.

But the group and Mr Bachman made headlines in January 2015 when some 25,000 people attended a Pegida rally in Dresden in the wake of the Islamist attacks on the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris.

Eight months later Pegida issued a programme including demands such as stopping the influx of asylum seekers, suspending the Schengen Treaty on free movement and imposing strict border controls

The 10 point programme proposed by Mr Bachmann and other Pegida leaders went so far as to advocate Germany exiting the EU if it attempts to block Germany implementing the proposals.

The group says that it is protesting against the erosion of Germany’s Judeo-Christian culture by Muslim immigrants but denies that it is racist or xenophobic despite its right wing rhetoric.

Earlier this month, Mr Bachmann was convicted of “inciting racial hatred” and fined €9,600 over posts on his Facebook page in 2014 in which he called refugees “scumbags “ and “filth”.

And just this week, Pegida was again accused of racism after it objected to the faces of black and Middle Eastern children featuring on packaging for Germany’s iconic Kinder chocolates.

The two faces that Pegida objected to were photographs of Bayern Munich and German defender Jerome Boetang and Borrusia Dortmund and German Ikay Gundogan as children.

Both are German citizens with Boetang being born to a German mother and Ghanian father in Berlin and Gundogan being born to Turkish parents in the western city of Gelsenkirchen.

The rise of Pegida has been condemned by the German authorities with Minister of the Interior, Thomas De Maizière calling the organizers of the rallies “far-right extremists and demagogues”.

“Stay away from those people who are injecting this hatred, this poison into our country!” said Mr De Maziere, a member of Angel Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union of Germany party.