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Germany

Bavarian AfD wants to shut down mosques

A local branch of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party wants to ban all mosques, according to a leaked draft policy. The right-wing party is working on its official manifesto ahead of a party conference in April.

A local branch of the Alternative for Germany has written the right-wing party's most anti-Islamic policy statement yet. According to media group "Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland" (RND) a draft policy by the Bavarian branch of the party demands that the "construction and operation of mosques" be banned.

Mosques "do not just serve common prayer, but also the spreading of Islamic teaching, which advocates the removal of our legal order," said the document, entitled "Courage to Responsibility."

The policy statement goes on to claim that the Koran permits "lies and deception," and that Islam "has already arrived at its declared path toward world domination in 57 of 190 countries."

'Unconstitutional' attack on religious freedom

The AfD acknowledged that the new idea could violate the German constitution, which guarantees religious freedom, but said that this needed to be limited, as the framers of Germany's Basic Law had not taken into account that "the application of religious freedom could give access to religions that call for the committing of crimes ... and have the aim of world domination."

Frauke Petry

AfD leader Frauke Petry last week linked the Brussels attacks to the refugee crisis

The AfD's extremist faction, which calls itself "the Wing," is thought to be responsible for the draft policy, and Bavaria's AfD leader Petr Bystron distanced himself from the proposal, though he admitted he knew of it.

Bryston said the draft policy was a counter-proposal to the official draft manifesto released by the national AfD last week, several of whose points the Wing opposed. He added the specific local group that drew up the policy statement, from the Lower Bavaria region, had a "certain affiliation" with the Wing.

Though the call to ban the construction of new mosques represents the most radical religious policy the AfD has floated so far, it is in line with the AfD's official draft manifesto, which likewise declares that "Islam does not belong in Germany." (There are estimated to be around four million Muslims in the country, or five percent of the total population.)

In fact, the official party doctrine shows that even the more moderate AfD leadership is not entirely happy with mosque building. "The AfD rejects the minaret, which is a symbol of Islamic domination, as is the muezzin call, according to which there is no god but Allah," the manifesto says. "The minaret and the muezzin are in conflict with a tolerant co-existence of religions, which the Christian churches have practiced in modern times."

The AfD also wants to ban burqas and niqabs in public and to restrict the foreign influence of Islam in Germany by requiring imams to be taught only in German and at German universities.

Leaked policies

The AfD's manifesto has been subject to massive media attention following the party's surging election results in early March, when it gained representation in three more state parliaments on a platform of opposition to Angela Merkel's asylum policy with up to 24 percent of the vote. But the party is now trying to widen its policy brief and has chosen Islam as its new target.

A draft manifesto was leaked to the investigative journalist group "Correctiv" - who released it just days before the March 13 vote - which included controversial proposals to privatize state broadcasters and unemployment benefit and to abolish state benefits for single parents.

These more contentious ideas were expunged from the official draft manifesto, which the party released on March 24, but the overall world view was retained with calls for the return of national military service, and more emphasis on "traditional families," which it called the "nucleus of society."

Climate change and gun control

The AfD's other proposals would not look out of place on the ticket of some Republican candidates in the United States - they include the abolition of Germany's Renewable Energy Act on the grounds that it "threatens the power supply" and that wind energy parks "destroy the picture of our cultural landscapes." Instead, the AfD favors prolonging the life of the country's nuclear power stations.

The draft manifesto also contains some thoughts on gun control. Though it stops short of calling for a loosening of gun law, it is determined to oppose any further restrictions. "A liberal constitutional state must trust its citizens," the manifesto reads. "It must not only be able to tolerate its citizens legally buying and owning weapons, but must also protect its citizens' freedom to act as well as minimize its freedom-limiting invasions."

The AfD's assault on single parenthood has also been made more abstract. While a leaked draft stated "We reject any state financing of the self-chosen lifestyle 'single parent'," the official draft confined itself to "correcting" the "financial burdens" of single parents, by creating a "legal system that takes into account the work of raising children."

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