Germany’s populist AfD steps up anti-Muslim policies

Right-wing party accused of abusing Islam to tap into fears arising from terrorist attacks.

Germany’s leading Muslim organisation has likened the populist Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) to the Nazis for demanding a total ban on burkas, mosque minarets and muezzin calls to prayer.

Ahead of a conference in Stuttgart, Islam-critical passages in the AfD’s draft party programme suggest the party is facing its third transformation in its three-year history, after starting life as a bailout critical party before launching a staunch anti-immigration line.

“Islam is not a religion like Catholic or Protestant Christianity, but rather always associated intellectually with the takeover of a state,” said Alexander Gauland, head of the AfD in Brandenburg to the Frankfurter Allgemeinenewspaper.

Echoing that line was party deputy leader and MEP Beatrix von Storch. ¨ “Islam is a political ideology that is not compatible with the constitution,” said Ms von Storch, who recently left her EU parliamentary group when threatened with expulsion for backing a proposal to shoot refugees enteringGermany illegally.

Aiman Mazyek, head of the Central Committee of Muslims in Germany, lead the critical reaction to the AfD proposals, which he said “abused” Islam to tap into fears stirred up by recent Islamist terrorist attacks in Europe.

For the first time since the Nazi era, he said, a political party in Germany was “once against discrediting an entire religious group and threatening their existence”.

Mr Gauland’s warning of an “Islamisation of Germany” chimes with the main concern of extremist right-wing group Pegida. The two groups have met but, to date, the AfD has declined offers of formal co-operation.

The AfD’s more open Islam-critical position comes a month after three state election wins – including 24 per cent support in one eastern German poll – that now puts the AfD in half of Germany’s state parliaments.

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