A Scottish man is on trial for allegedly stirring up hatred, after causing outrage in a video in which he taught his dog to make a Nazi salute and respond to the phrase “gas the Jews.”
Prosecutors said Mark Meechan’s clip was “anti-Semitic in nature” and caused fear and alarm.
They noted that the video remained available online and was receiving thousands of new views every day, the Scottish Sun reported. It has been viewed nearly 3 million times.
There was no word on what punishment Meechan could face if convicted.
Meechan, 29, was detained last May on suspicion of committing a hate crime and spent a night in jail. The arrest came after he posted a video online under the title “M8 Yur Dugs A Nazi” (Mate, your dog’s a Nazi).
“This clip was shared online and has been viewed almost one million times,” Detective Inspector David Cockburn said at the time, according to the Daily Mail. “The clip is deeply offensive and no reasonable person can possibly find the content acceptable in today’s society.”
He added: “There is no place for hate crime in Scotland and police take all reports of incidents seriously.”
In the clip Meechan said he had decided to train his girlfriend’s pug Buddha to be a Nazi as a practical joke.
“My girlfriend is always ranting and raving about how cute and adorable her wee dog is, and so I thought I would turn him into the least cute thing that I could think of, which is a Nazi,” he told his viewers.
He then filmed multiple instances in which his dog perks up to the sound of the phrase “gas the Jews” as well as simply the word “Jews.” In the second part of the video the dog is seen watching a Hitler speech and raising its right paw in response to the phrase “Sieg heil.”
Jewish groups were incensed by the video, with the Board of Deputies of British Jews calling it “sickening” and encouraging police to investigate Meechan.
The Scottish Council of Jewish Communities said anti-Semitism should not be regarded “as a joke,” with director Ephraim Borowski telling the Mirror that “to regard the meticulously planned and industrialized murder of six million people solely on the grounds of their ethnicity as a joke is outrageous.”
Meechan later apologized, saying he had never intended to offend anyone with the video and simply wanted “to annoy my girlfriend.” He said he never imagined the video would become viral and had thought it would only be viewed his close friends “who know me and know my sense of humor and know my comedy, which is quite dark.”
He stressed that he hated “racism in any way shape or form…I don’t have any ill will towards the Jewish community or anything like that at all.”
His girlfriend Suzanne Kelly defended him as well, telling the Mirror “that’s just Markus’s sense of humor. He would never set out to insult anybody or cause offense.”