The founder of the anti-Islamisation Pegida party, Lutz Bachmann, has been criticised in the German media after being pictured with a Hitler moustache and comb-over

Dresden's Morgenpost newspaper first published the story and the country's top-selling tabloid, Bild, published the picture of Bachmann on its front page.

Bachmann defended the photo as a "joke" photograph for a new satirical novel about Hitler returning to Modern Germany.

"I had the picture taken at a hairdresser's for the publication of the audiobook of "He is back" and Christoph Maria Herbst [a well-known German comedian] posted it on Pinwand [a picture-sharing site]," Bachmann told Bild. "You have to joke about yourself sometimes."

Pegida spokesperson, Kathrin Oertel, also rejected the video as a "joke".

The group's name stands for Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West and it has organised a number of large protests in the city of Dresden against what it views as the rise of Islam in Europe.

As many as 25,000 have joined the marches while a number of anti-Pegida marches have mobilised in response to their rallies.

Bachmann, 41, holds a number of criminal convictions for burglary and drug possession. He has also faced criticism for referring to immigrants as "cattle" and "garbage".

In a conversation leaked to Dresden's Morgenpost by an anonymous female Facebook user who conversed with Bachmann on the social site, the Pegida leader writes in capital letters there are "NO REAL WAR REFUGEES" when talking about a local asylum seeker hostel.

"Whoever can afford the trip clearly does not belong to a threatened group," he continues.

He proceeds to tell the woman to "wake up and stop spreading the propaganda of the gleichgeschaltete press", in reference to Nazi-era control of German media.

The woman then told Bachmann that her mother's partner is employed at the hostel, to which he replied: "Then he should know the cattle that really come here ... and have to be watched FOR GOOD REASON."

A march by the group against Islam, planned to take place earlier this week, was cancelled by German authorities after "a concrete threat" from radical Islamists.