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Turkish-born PEGIDA speaker slammed over speech

October 20, 2015

A Turkish-born German author and known PEGIDA supporter Akif Pirincci is facing stern criticism after speaking at a rally. His book publisher canceled all contracts, even PEGIDA's co-founder apologized for his comments.

Author, Akif Pirincci
Image: picture-alliance/dpa

Random House announced late on Tuesday that it had terminated all contracts between its subsidiaries and Pirincci, following right-wing extremist comments made by the author in the eastern German city of Dresden on Monday evening.

"The protection of democracy and human rights is for us a key part of our publishing creativity, as well as respect for traditions and the desire for cultural diversity," Random House wrote on their website, adding that Pirincci's statements "are conflicting to these values."

The 56-year-old, best known for a series of cat-based crime novels starting with "Felidae" in 1989, has more recently gained notoriety for a libertarian blog called "The Axis of Good," which has often been accused of racism. He has also written a series of leaflets and books, spreading ideas sometimes condemned as far-right and homophobic.

Concentration camps 'unfortunately out of action'

During his 25-minute speech on Monday, Pirincci described refugees as "invaders," and politicians as "gauleiters against their own people." He went on to also make a reference to Muslims "who pump infidels with their Muslim juice" and a threat that Germany would become a "Muslim garbage dump."

Police at Dresden PEGIDA demonstration, October 19, 2015
Image: Reuters/F. Bensch

The 20,000-strong crowd at PEGIDA's first 'anniversary' rally responded with shouts of "resistance, resistance," to which Pirincci said, "Of course there are other alternatives - but the concentration camps are unfortunately out of action at the moment."

Early on, the crowd applauded and laughed, but after his speech continued for another 20 minutes, the PEGIDA gathering booed the writer off stage.

Criticism over 'disgusting' speech

The International Auschwitz Committee branded the "concentration camp" comments as a "disgusting signal of shamelessness." State prosecutors in Dresden also said they would be investigating Pirincci's remarks, on suspicion of hate speech.

Even from within the ranks of PEGIDA, it appeared that Pirincci had gone a step too far, with the movement's co-founder, Lutz Bachmann, condemning the comments.

Bachmann posted an apology on Facebook on Tuesday, saying it was "a grave mistake" to not turn off Pirincci's microphone earlier.

Between 15,000 and 20,000 PEGIDA followers took to the streets of Dresden on Monday evening - almost a year to the day since the group held its first rally in capital of the German state of Saxony.

Following the group's record turnout of 25,000 in January, numbers dropped dramatically to around 2,000 - largely due to a series of scuffles within the leadership. Amid growing concern over the German government's handling of the refugee crisis, however, attendance has grown steadily in recent weeks.

ksb/msh (AFP, dpa)