Germany’s anti-Muslim party leader converted to Islam
BERLIN: A leading politician from Germany’s far-right anti-Muslim party Alternative for Germany (AfD) has converted to Islam and resigned from his position in party, the party has confirmed in a statement.
Arthur Wagner, a leading member in eastern German state of Brandenburg, stepped down for “personal reasons”, a party spokesperson confirmed, according to state broadcaster Deutsche Welle.
Wagner, a member of the AfD since 2015, refused to comment to Tagesspiegel, the daily newspaper that first broke the news of his conversion.
“That’s my private business,” he told the daily.
The AfD emerged as the most vocal opponent of the Germany’s policy with regard to refugees and it campaigned against migrants and made history when it won 12.6 percent of the vote in federal elections in September 2017 and became the third largest party in the German parliament.
The party has also sought to ban the construction of mosques in Germany.
In March 2016, the party’s Bavaria branch published a policy statement calling for an end to the “construction and operation” of mosques in the region, Deutsche Welle reported at the time.
In April 2016, Alexander Gauland, an AfD leader proclaimed that Germany must remain “a Christian country” and “Islam is a foreign entity”.
The rise in anti-Muslim rhetoric has also coincided with a spike in violence against asylum seekers.