German TV network, ARD, has sparked anger after broadcasting a mocked up image of German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a Muslim headscarf. In the backdrop of the image, minarets could be seen with a German flag flying high during the channel's report from Berlin.
The broadcaster denied having any form of 'Islamophobic propaganda' and said the image was simply used as a form of satire to encourage debate about the European migrant crisis. Social media users however criticised the network for triggering anti-Muslim responses and encouraging Islamophobia, drawing parallels with the anti-Islam Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident (Pegida) movement that had fast spread across Germany.
"We welcome the many criticisms of the graphic in yesterday's Report from Berlin and we are sorry some disagreed with our portrayal of the chancellor or even misunderstood," said the broadcaster in a statement on Facebook. According to ARD, the intention behind using the mocked up image was to grab people's attention and celebrate the "freedom of expression", reported BBC News.
Meanwhile, Pegida supporters once again gained momentum and gathered in Dresden on 5 October to condemn the German government's refugee policy. Pegida faced uncertainty after founder Lutz Bachmann stepped down on 21 January and several other senior Pegida leaders followed suit. Bachmann founded the Pegida group in October 2014. The 42-year-old, who holds a criminal record for burglary and drugs offences, was forced to step down from Pegida's leadership after a picture of him sporting a Hitler moustache was published along with derogatory comments he made about refugees.