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23rd Feb 2024

German populist party adopts anti-Islam manifesto

  • The AfD has gained popularity with its tough stance against immigration and Islam (Photo: AfD)

The German right-wing party Alternative for Germany (AfD) has adopted an explicitly anti-Islam platform, saying Islam is not a part of Germany.

The document adopted on Sunday (1 May) calls for a ban on the full body Islamic veil, minarets and the Muslim call to prayer as “Islamic symbols of power”.

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AfD, which has representatives in eight of 16 state assemblies, has gained popularity with its tough stance against chancellor Angela Merkel’s welcoming refugee policy.

The party was founded in 2013 to oppose the use of German taxpayers' money to bail out other eurozone countries. After much infighting, it has increasingly shifted to the right, harnessing German concerns over some one million asylum seekers who have arrived to the country since last year.

Some 2,000 delegates gathered for a two-day conference in Stuttgart to mark the launch of the manifest, in a hall decorated with banners declaring: “Courage, Truth, Germany”.

The manifesto called for an exit from the euro, reaffirmed traditional family values, proposed to reinstate military service for young men and better border control, and rejected the “ideology of multiculturalism”.

The party also opposed the presence of nuclear weapons in Germany and the deployment of German soldiers overseas.

“Our party programme is the road to a different Germany,” party co-leader Joerg Meuthen told the conference.

Hundreds protest

Delegates who called for a more moderate wording, spelling out a need for dialogue with Islam, were booed at the conference.

Meanwhile the party, trying to fend off criticism of extremism, disbanded its group in Saarland after it emerged they had ties to neo-Nazi groups.

The start of the conference on Saturday was interrupted by at least 1,000 leftist protesters. Some 400 of them were detained by police, who used pepper spray on the crowds.

It came as hackers revealed the addresses of some 2,000 AfD members on a leftist website.

AfD is now the third largest party in Germany, according to recent poll by the Emnid Institute for the Bild am Sonntag newspaper, surpassing the Greens.

They are yet to have representation is the federal parliament, but are hoping for a strong showing at next year’s general election.

Merkel has said before that “Islam is part of Germany”, and critics of AfD point out that the German constitution defends freedom of religion. The country is home to some four million Muslims.

Germany speeds up Georgia and Morocco asylum returns

Germany is expanding agreements to return rejected asylum seekers to their countries of origin as part of a wider shift in Europe to curtail migration. Berlin has reached deals with Georgia and Morocco since December.

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