Pegida leader Lutz Bachmann
Pegida leader Lutz Bachmann addresses a Pegida rally in Dresden, GermanyGetty

Far-right leader Lutz Bachmann claims he was forced to become a "refugee" and that "persecution" forced him to flee Germany to Tenerife.

Bachmann, who in May was found guilty of inciting hatred after branding refugees "scum" and "cattle" in Facebook posts, has been living in the popular Spanish holiday resort island off the coast of West Africa for five months, Sächsische Zeitung (SZ) reported.

In a video published on Facebook, Bachmann claimed that he and his wife were being "persecuted," and said that there had been several attempts to break into his home. He said he had not moved to the island permanently, but to take up an employment opportunity.

Bachmann is the founder of the grassroots Pegida movement, or Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident. Pegida opposes Islam and immigration, and has drawn tens of thousands to its rallies in Dresden, with offshoots emerging in other parts of Germany.

In 2015, photographs emerged of Bachmann posing as Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler, and the movement seemed to be petering out, with attendance dwindling at its rallies. However the refugee crisis, which has seen the German government welcome more than a million migrants to the country, has resulted in a new surge in support for the group.

In recent months Bachmann has been notably absent from Pegida's weekly Dresden rallies, SZ reported.

In a Facebook post, Pegida's former deputy leader, Tatjana Festerling, said that Bachmann returned to Germany every fortnight as a "show of resistance."

This article was ammended on 22 September to correct the false claim that Festerling is current Pegida deputy leader.