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German far-right party to 'rebrand itself' as anti-Muslim
  |Monday, 18 March 201+|Political| Page Views : 500



  far-Right political party which inflicted damaging losses on Angela Merkel in German regional elections is reportedly to rebrand itself as openly anti-Muslim. A powerful faction within Alternative for Germany (AfD) want to put overt opposition to Islam at the heart of the party’s programme, according to Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung newspaper.

The move follows reports the party wants to ban minarets, the call to prayer, and male circumcision, and would put the party on a collision course with Germany’s estimated four million Muslims. “Islam is a political ideology that is incompatible with the German constitution,” Beatrix von Storch, one of the party’s deputy leaders and an MEP, told the newspaper.

“Many Muslims are part of Germany, but Islam is not part of Germany,” she said.

“Islam is not a religion like Catholic or Protestant Christianity, but is intellectually committed to the takeover of the state. Therefore the Islamisation of Germany is a danger,” Alexander Gauland, another deputy leader, said. “We are a Christian-secular state, Islam is a foreign entity. There is no such thing as a ‘Euro-Islam’.”

The AfD stormed to its best ever results in regional elections last month on a platform of opposition to Mrs Merkel’s “open-door” refugee policy. But the party appears to be shifting from an anti-immigrant stance to a more general opposition to Islam, raising concerns among Germany’s Muslim population.

An estimated 1.9m Muslims are German citizens, while another 2.4m are permanent residents. Calls from within the party to ban male circumcision have also raised alarm in Germany’s Jewish community.

The shift to an openly anti-Muslim stance would align the party more closely with the Pegida street movement, whose full name is Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the West.

The AfD is to agree its new manifesto at the party conference in Stuttgart in two weeks, with a hardline faction pushing for a ban on minarets, the call to prayer and women wearing hijab in public.

The comments by Ms von Storch and Mr Gauland ahead of the meeting suggests they believe they have the support to force through the anti-Muslim measures despite opposition from the party leader, Frauke Petry. Ms Petry has looked increasingly marginalised within the party in recent weeks despite leading it to its best ever results.

Meanwhile the party is reportedly divided over a proposed alliance with France’s Front National at the European parliament. A faction led by Ms von Storch opposes forming a bloc with Marine le Pen’s party — on the grounds it would drag the AfD too far to the left. “The Front National is socialist, we are liberal. The Front National is nationalist, we are patriotic,” Ms von Storch said.

By: Justin Huggler



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