German AfD branded ‘Nazis’ after it says Islam is ‘unconstitutional’

The construction site of the new Cologne Central Mosque next to the famous landmark and UNESCO world heritage, the Cologne Cathedral in Germany. © Wolfgang Rattay
The anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) party deputy chief has said Islam is a political ideology incompatible with the German constitution, and has called for a ban on minarets and full veils. In turn, the Council of Muslims in Germany has branded the statements “Nazi.”

"We are in favor of a ban on minarets, on muezzins and a ban on full veils," Beatrix von Storch, who is also a member of the European Parliament, told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.

"Islam is in itself a political ideology that is not compatible with the basic law," she said.

The program would also call for tight control over mosques and Islamic religious schools teaching in Germany.

Her deputy Alexander Gauland, who leads the AfD in Brandenburg, voiced similar stance.

"Islam is not a religion like Catholic or Protestant Christianity, but rather intellectually always associated with the takeover of the state," he said. "That is why the Islamization of Germany is a danger."

He went further to state that an enlightened Euro-Islam is impossible, calling the religion a foreign body. Storch said there is a place for Muslims in Germany as long as the secular law is not challenged.

AfD’s Euroskeptic and anti-immigration message resonated with German voters during last month’s regional elections. The party won seats in three state legislatures while pushing down Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats. In Saxony-Anhalt AfD won 24 percent of the vote, surpassing the chancellor’s party.

READ MORE: Anti-immigrant AfD makes huge gains in votes, Merkel suffers losses – early figures

The party’s success mirrors the advancement of likely-minded political forces elsewhere in Europe, where the unfolding refugee crisis fuels public anger.

Critics accuse such parties of playing people’s darker emotions and promoting xenophobic ideas. AfD party has been accused of using language similar to that of Adolf Hitler.

The Council of Muslims in Germany rejected AfD’s assessment, saying Islam is no different for Judaism or Christianity and is compatible with a secular state.

"It is the first time since Hitler's Germany that there is a party which discredits and existentially threatens an entire religious community," the chairman of the council Aiman Mazyek told public broadcaster NDR.

The secretary general of the Council of Europe, Thorbjorn Jagland, warned that such statements are "contrary to European values".

"It is right and necessary to have a debate about important issues like integration and education, but to depict Islam as a threat to our society is wrong and hurtful to millions of European Muslims," he said in a statement.

“AfD attack against Islam is not directed against Muslims only, but against an open and carrying society,” commented Christine Buchholz, a left-wing German MP.

The AfD was founded in 2013 by economics professor Bernd Lucke and initially stood against the EU’s single currency, but for the EU membership. Last year, however, it saw a leader and ideology change with chemist and businesswoman Frauke Petry coming to power by winning public support with her anti-immigrant rhetoric. Beatrix von Storch is a deputy-chair and a spokesperson for the party.