04:03 GMT22 October 2020
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    A man has appeared in a Scottish court charged with a hate crime after teaching his girlfriend's pet dog to give a Nazi salute.

    Mark Meechan was arrested after he uploaded footage of the pug, called Buddha, lifting its leg when he said "gas the Jews" and "Sieg Heil" on to YouTube.

    The clip has gathered millions of views and led to complaints resulting in the police being called in to investigate.

    Mr. Meechan, 29, of Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, denies any wrongdoing and insists that he created the footage in April last year merely to annoy his 29-year-old girlfriend Suzanne Kelly.

    A Jewish leader has described the video as being grossly offensive and the Holocaust should not be joked about. Giving evidence Ephraim Borowski, director of the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities, told Airdrie Sheriff Court he had family members who had died in the Holocaust.

    "It is grossly offensive, it stuns me that anyone should think it is a joke. 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. In many ways, the bit I found most offensive was the repetition of 'gas the Jews' rather than the dog itself."

    Mr. Borowski told the court: "The other thing that struck me was the explicit statement that this was intended to give offence and intended to be the most offensive thing he could think of and then he says he isn't a racist but unfortunately we hear that all the time."

    "Material of this kind goes to normalize the anti-Semitic views that frankly we thought we had seen the last of. The Holocaust is not a subject for jocular content."

    The Jewish community in Scotland had been left outraged and threatened by the video, Mr. Borowski said. "The threat is against the Jewish community and there is an echo chamber effect with people trying to be more offensive."

    Prosecutors allege Mr. Meechan communicated material that would cause fear and alarm and stir up hatred on religious grounds. He also faces an alternative charge of posting a video on social media and YouTube that was grossly offensive because it was "anti-Semitic and racist in nature."

    A police investigation believed Mr. Meechan was the owner of the 'Count Dankula' YouTube channel which posted the video. The clip is still widely available to users and continues to rack up thousands of hits a day. It has now been viewed more than 2.8 million times.

    A second video was also viewed in which the accused is seen to apologize for any offence caused. He said: "I am so sorry to the Jewish community for any offence I have caused them. This was never my intention and I apologize."

    The trial before Sheriff Derek O'Carroll has been adjourned until later this year.


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    anti-Semitism, Anti-Semitic, hate, racism, hate crimes, video, YouTube, United Kingdom
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