Members of the far-right party Alternative for Germany (AfD) have backed an election manifesto that says Islam is not compatible with the constitution. Delegates at the party’s conference on Sunday also supported a call to ban minarets on mosques and the burqa.
Set up three years ago, the AfD has been buoyed by Europe’s refugee crisis, which saw the arrival of more than one million, mostly Muslims, in Germany last year.
The party has no MPs in the federal parliament in Berlin but has members in half of Germany’s 16 regional state assemblies. Opinion polls give AfD support of up to 14 percent, presenting a serious challenge to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives and other established parties in the lead-up to the 2017 federal election.
Most mainstream parties have ruled out any coalition with the AfD. In a noisy debate on the second day of a party congress, many of the 2,000 members cheered calls from the podium for measures against “Islamic symbols of power” and jeered a plea for dialogue with Germany’s Muslims.
“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, an AfD lawmaker from the state of Saxony-Anhalt, to loud applause.