A Scottish man who taught his girlfriend's pet dog to perform a Nazi salute appeared in court on Monday, accused of committing a hate crime.
The London Times reported that Mark Meechan, 29, is also accused of posting a video that was grossly offensive. Meechan was arrested in May 2016 after uploading a video to YouTube in which the pug, called Buddha, appears to give a Nazi salute when Meechan tells him "Sieg Heil."
Meechan is also heard repeating the phrase "Gas the Jews" in the video, and the dog is seen watching a Hitler rally during the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
More than three million people viewed the video on YouTube, which has since been taken down.
The accused denied any wrongdoing. In the video, which he shot in April 2016, Meechan is heard explaining: "My girlfriend is always ranting and raving about how cute and adorable her wee dog is so I thought I would turn him into the least cute thing I could think of, which is a Nazi."
In Airdrie Sheriff Court, central Scotland, the Times reported that prosecutors alleged that Meechan had created a video that would "cause fear and alarm, and stir up hatred on religious grounds," and that the video was "anti-Semitic and racist in nature."
Ephraim Borowski, director of the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities, testified in court that the video was grossly offensive and the Holocaust "is not a subject for jocular content.
"My immediate reaction is that there is a clear distinction to be made between an offhand remark and the amount of effort that is required to train a dog like that," Borowski told the court, adding, "I actually feel sorry for the dog."
The Times reported that Borowski found the repeated use of the phrase "Gas the Jews" the most offensive element in the video.
"The other thing that struck me was the explicit statement that this was intended to give offense and intended to be the most offensive thing he could think of – and then he says he isn't a racist," he added. "But unfortunately we hear that all the time from people."
Borowski also told the court such material "goes to normalize the anti-Semitic views that frankly we thought we had seen the last of," the Times reported.
Borowski also noted that his organization had been "bombarded" with abusive comments after the video went viral. "There is an echo chamber effect, with people trying to be more offensive. One hundred and sixty pages of messages were collected by us in a day – they supported [the video] and it was anti-Semitic."
The Scotsman reported in July there were a record number of anti-Semitic attacks in Scotland in 2016.
The paper wrote that of the 26 anti-Semitic crimes last year, 15 resulted in criminal charges, while a further 19 “non-criminal” anti-Semitic incidents also took place.
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