The leader of the Dutch branch of the anti-Islamic movement Pegida should not be fined for displaying a swastika at a demonstration in Amsterdam earlier this year, a court said on Thursday.
Officials had said ahead of the rally that nazi symbols were banned but Edwin Wagensveld pressed ahead with displaying a banner showing a swastika and an IS flag being thrown into a waste bin.
The judge said that the blanket ban on the swastika hit the heart of the demonstration and that everyone could see the symbol was being thrown away. ‘Throwing away a symbol of national socialism is clearly part of what Pegida wanted to say,’ the judge said.
The public prosecution department had offered to settle out of court with a €250 fine but Wagensveld rejected the deal.
Pegida, whose name is a German acronym for ‘Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West’ was formed in Dresden in 2014, and has since expanded to other European countries.
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