Germany's AfD back anti-Islam election manifesto

Far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party members back election manifesto which calls for ban on Islamic symbols from German society.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Bjoern Hoecke (C) of the anti-refugee party Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, votes during the AfD congress in Stuttgart, Germany, April 30, 2016.

Germany’s rising far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party backed an election manifesto, which includes a chapter entitled "Islam is not a part of Germany" that says Islam is not compatible with the country’s constitution, in a vote held on the second day of a party congress on Sunday.

Many of the party’s 2,000 members also backed calls for a ban on "Islamic symbols of power" such as minarets - the towers of a mosque from where the call to Muslim prayer is made - and the burqa - the all-encompassing body garment worn by some conservative Muslim women.

"Islam is foreign to us and for that reason it cannot invoke the principle of religious freedom to the same degree as Christianity," said Hans-Thomas Tillschneider, the AfD’s lawmaker from the state of Saxony-Anhalt.

In March, the AfD added three more regional assemblies in which they are represented, going up to eight out of 16 assemblies in the country.

Its support was strongest in Saxony-Anhalt, where it grabbed 24.2 percent of the vote. It was the first time the AfD had come as high as second in any state.

Germans have been turning in droves to the party, which propagates a eurosceptic and anti-refugee stance, amid increasing criticism towards German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-door policy which allowed more than a million refugees to enter the country last year.

According to a poll conducted by Focus magazine, 40 percent of Germans want Merkel to resign due to her refugee policy. The findings were based on a sample of 2,047 Germans surveyed from January 22 to January 25.

Opinion polls give AfD support of up to 14 percent, presenting a serious challenge to Merkel's conservatives and other established parties ahead of the 2017 federal election. They rule out any coalition with the AfD.

Frauke Petry, the leader of the AfD, previously called on German police to use firearms against illegal refugees entering the country.

Frauke Petry, chairwoman of the anti-refugee party Alternative for Germany (AfD), and AfD leader Joerg Meuthen stand at the end of the second day of the AfD congress in Stuttgart, Germany, May 1, 2016.

Attacks against refugee shelters more than quadrupled from 114 in 2014 to 505 in 2015. There were only 18 such attacks in 2011.

Most of the refugees arrived in Germany escaping from conditions of war and poverty from Muslim-dominated countries in the Middle East and Africa, particularly Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Germany is already home to nearly four million Muslims, which make up about five percent of the total population. Many of the longer established Muslim community in Germany came from Turkey to find work.

TRTWorld, Reuters