Germany: Pegida speechmaker charged with arson against mosque
On 9 December the German media reported that the Federal General Prosecutor has filed charges against a man named Nino K. alleging that he committed arson attacks against a mosque during the week prior to the September celebration of the state holiday of German reunification. He is also charged with committing arson against the Congress Center in Dresden and planting fake bombs on a bridge there.
The Local Operations Security Headquarters of the Saxony Police, the police unit established last year to investigate extremist crime there, confirmed that Nino K. was taken into custody per court order. During house searches, police confiscated materials for committing arson and producing explosives that contained Nino K.'s DNA.
On 26 September, firebombs were detonated in front of the doors of the family home of an Islamic clergyman. The building also served as a prayer hall for Muslims.
The imam and his family were not physically injured. On that same day an explosion also happened on the terrace of the Congress Center in Dresden.
Police allege that the same perpetrator, three days later, placed a plastic bag with fake bombs made out of glass and wire on a bridge in Dresden. In the past, the spokesperson for the Pegida movement in Germany has always denied any connection with the violent attacks.
Pegida has presented itself as a nonviolent movement. In response to the arrest of Nino K., the co-founder of Pegida, Lutz Bachmann, posted the following to Facebook: "It if was him, then I ask that that they lock him up and throw away the key, irrespective of whether he smeared some soot on the wall or lit a firecracker."
Bachmann compared the commission of the attacks to those perpetrated in the past by left-wing terrorists and speculated that the media might now report on Pegida in that vein. Saxon Interior Minister Markus Ublig (Christian Democratic Union) said the success of the investigation is a consequence of the thorough approach taken by the Free State of Saxony against such efforts by racists.
On 13 July 2015, Nino K. read an "Open Letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel" at a Pegida demonstration in Dresden accusing her of admitting streams of refugees into Germany. "One day she will have to testify in court, maybe even on Judgment Day," Nino K. said in his speech.
"We hope the Lord God will have mercy on you, because we will show you none," Nino K. said on that occasion. Bachmann, who was also present, immediately responded by thanking Nino K., saying: "Those were clear, strong words."
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