Cii Radio| Ayesha Ismail| 25 January 2018| 07 Jumadul Ula 1439
A member of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, known for its anti-Muslim rhetoric, has surprised observers by converting to Islam
A leading member of Germany’s far-right Alternative for Germany party, known for lamenting “Islamization” of the country, has stepped down following his conversion to Islam, according to multiple reports.
Arthur Wagner resigned from his position in the German state of Brandenburg on Jan. 11 for “personal reasons,” party spokesman Daniel Friese said Wednesday. Friese added that the party has no issue with Wagner’s decision.
It’s unclear what prompted Wagner’s religious conversion.
Alternative for Germany, or AfD, rose to prominence beginning in 2015 with the influx of refugees and migrants into Europe. The party worked to appeal to mainstream Germans by stoking fear of a cultural overhaul and a threat to the German lifestyle.
The AfD party is known for its far-right beliefs and its strong anti-immigration and anti-Islam sentiments.
On its website, the AfD proclaims that “Islam does not belong in Germany”
The party was voted into Germany’s Bundestag, or parliament, for the first time in last year’s elections. It’s promoted policies like the repatriation of 500,000 Syrian refugees living in Germany, claiming the Syrian civil war is almost over.
AfD supporters have regularly held anti-Islam rallies, and in last year’s federal elections the party used posters depicting housewives in niqab (face veils) to press home its message.
Mr Wagner, who is of Russian origin, previously belonged to German chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party.
However in a video published in 2017, he is shown saying that although he had once been an admirer of Mrs Merkel, her decision to open the door to hundreds of thousands of migrants during the 2015-16 crisis had proved he was “totally wrong”.
He claimed Germany had “mutated into another country” as a result.