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Nicolaus Fest, an MEP for the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, appeared to have shared insults and delight at the death of the president of the European Parliament. President Sassoli died yesterday at the age of 65, prompting sympathy and messages of respect from MEPs and European leaders – except, it seems, for Mr Fest.
An official statement from the AfD said that Mr Sassoli “died much too early,” but the leaked messages told a different story from within the party.
In a text conversation with other members of his party leaked to broadcaster ARD, Mr Fest said: “Finally, that filthy pig is gone.
“An anti-democrat, a disgrace to any parliamentary idea.”
As outrage sparked at the leaked messages, Mr Fest took to Facebook to respond – but not to apologise.
In fact, Mr Fest appeared to double down on his dislike of the late president.
He said in the post, originally in German: “The picture drawn by David Sassoli is complete.”
He added: “The fact that screenshots of this internal communication have been pierced is unfortunate.”
In the post, Mr Fest accused Mr Sassoli of covering up “communal fraud” by two Italian deputies.
He also accused Mr Sassoli of “questionable” silence on accusations of child abuse at Sweidsh MP Frederik Federley.
The leader of Fest’s party, Jörg Meuthen, has distanced himself from the statements.
Mr Meuthen said to ARD: “Such a statement about a colleague who has just died after a serious illness is disturbing, deeply repugnant and inexcusable.”
Senior MEPs quickly weighed in to condemn Mr Fest’s words.
Katarina Barley, vice president of the Parliament and a member of the German Social Democrats, told ARD that Mr Fest’s comments were “characteristic of their author and of that contempt for humanity against which Sassoli has always stood resolutely.”
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Ms Barley went on to tell Politico: “One of the many reasons why David Sassoli was respected across party lines was that he did not tolerate hate speech in the European Parliament.
“Mr Fest’s statement is despicable and an example of the hatred and indecency that David always stood firmly against.
“The fact that Mr Fest refuses to apologize for his indecent remarks speaks for itself.”
For the 2021 federal election, AfD campaigned under the slogan: “Germany. But normal.”
This reflected their opposition to national lockdowns in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The far-right party did worse in 2021 than the previous election, receiving 10.3 percent of the vote, down from 12.6 percent in 2017.
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