A Jewish leader in Scotland whose family died in the Holocaust told a court of his disgust his at the actions of a man who taught his girlfriend's pug to give Nazi salutes to the commands "gas the Jews" and "Sieg Heil".
Mark Meechan, 29, was arrested after he shared a video on YouTube of the dog, called Buddha, performing the salute. He was appearing in Airdrie sheriff court charged with a hate crime in relation to the video.
Ephraim Borowski, director of the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities, told the court he had lost family members during the Holocaust and that it should not be joked about. "It is grossly offensive, it stuns me that anyone should think it is a joke," he said when he was shown the footage in court, reported The Times.
"My immediate reaction is that there is a clear distinction to be made between an off-hand remark and the amount of effort that is required to train a dog like that. I actually feel sorry for the dog," he said, adding that he found Meechan's repetition of the sentence 'gas the Jews' more offensive than the dog's behaviour.
Borowski said the video helps to "normalise" anti-Semitic views. "The Holocaust is not a subject for jocular content," he added.
Meechan, from Lanarkshire, was charged with a hate crime after prosecutors concluded that he communicated material that would cause fear and alarm and stir up hatred on religious grounds, and his trial continues.
He denies any wrongdoing and insists that he created the video with the sole purpose of annoying his girlfriend Suzanne Kelly. He had told the court previously that he turned the dog into "the least cute thing I could think of, which is a Nazi" in response to her "ranting and raving about how cute and adorable her wee dog is".
Meechan had shared numerous clips of the pug responding to his calls in a video entitled 'M8 yer dugs a Nazi' on his YouTube channel, Count Dankula. The video had been watched millions of times. He included a scene of the pug watching footage Adolf Hitler's speech to a rally at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
He said: "I am not a racist at all, anybody who knows me could tell you that. I'm freaked out because everyone's going to actually think that I hate Jews now and I don't at all. I'm kind of panicked about it... I just want everyone to know that I don't wish any ill-will on any race or anything, it's just how shock comedy works. It was strictly made to annoy my girlfriend and give my friends something to laugh at."
He added: "I am so sorry to the Jewish community for any offence I have caused them. This was never my intention and I apologise."