German state labels rising party as ‘extremist’
The Saxony-Anhalt chapter of Alternative for Germany has been classified as an extremist organization and can be considered an enemy of democracy, the head of the domestic intelligence agency in that German federal state said on Tuesday. The move comes just two weeks after the party topped an opinion poll in the region for the first time.
The state branch of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, also known as the Verfassungsschutz or BfV, has been investigating the party since January 2021, over its opposition to Covid-19 lockdowns and mandates.
The party “not only continues to represent anti-constitutional positions,” but has become so radicalized that “systematic observation using intelligence means is justified,” State BfV head Jochen Hollmann told the outlet MDR.
Alternative for Deutschland (AfD) desires an “ethno-culturally homogeneous nation” and calls for the exclusion of people based on their origin or religion, Hollman said. The BfV has compiled a hundred-page dossier containing “numerous anti-Muslim, racist and anti-Semitic statements” by party officials, as well as defamatory statements calling migrants “invaders”, “intruders” and “passport Germans,” among other things.
Moreover, according to the security service, AfD aims to “abolish parliamentary democracy” by challenging the legitimacy of German federal authorities, such as calling their actions during the pandemic ‘totalitarian’ and comparing them to the persecution of Jews under the Third Reich, and using “anti-Semitic terms” such as the ‘Great Reset’, a conspiracy theory.
AfD is now considered to have “confirmed right-wing extremist” aspirations, which is the highest tier of threat used by the BfV.
“I’m not interested in what the BfV claims,” AfD lawmaker Oliver Kirchner told MDR, calling the designation purely political. Kirchner pointed to a recent poll that showed AfD had 33% support in the state, one point ahead of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and far ahead of the ruling “traffic light coalition” parties.
The designation comes less than a month after the AfD made major gains in state elections in Bavaria, and Hesse in the west of Germany. Saxony-Anhalt, located in the former East Germany, is the second federal state to label its chapter of AfD as extremist, after nearby Thuringia did so in 2021.