The far-right anti-Islam PEGIDA movement’s founder has quit as the group’s leader following public outrage over a picture of him posing as Adolf Hitler.
Lutz Bachmann’s decision to step down came after German tabloid Bild circulated a picture of him, taken two years ago, showed him looking vengefully into the camera while wearing a toothbrush mustache and having combed the bulk of his hair to one side as used the German despot.
“Yes, I am also resigning as chairman [of PEGIDA],” he told the paper.
The PEGIDA movement, which is a staunch opponent of Muslims and asylum seekers, began to launch rallies in October and has managed to attract thousands of supporters across Germany since then.
PEGIDA is a German acronym which stands for the “Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West.”
Kicking up stink
Germany’s legislature has reacted to the picture, with Deputy Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel of the center-left Social Democrats saying, “Anyone involved in politics who masquerades as Hitler is either something of an idiot, or a Nazi.”
“The wolf has finally lost his sheep’s clothing,” said Ulla Jelpke, a member of Germany’s Left party in the Bundestag.
On Monday, thousands of people took to the streets of Munich, voicing anger against PEGIDA.
A study conducted by the Social Science Research Center in Berlin, presented on Monday by its director, Dieter Rucht, shows that the movement is losing steam.
Rucht’s team, from the universities of Bochum and Chemnitzm, analyzed online data to conduct the research. Rucht said he believed that the movement would continue to lose popularity because it was becoming very repetitive.