AfD censures firebrand Andre Poggenburg over anti-Turkish remarks | News | DW | 16.02.2018
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AfD censures firebrand Andre Poggenburg over anti-Turkish remarks

Anti-Turkish remarks by a far-right German politician have resulted a warning from his party, the Alternative for Germany (AfD). Andre Poggenburg also faces at least one potential hate speech prosecution.

Poggenburg's depiction of people of Turkish origin in Germany as "camel drivers" and "caraway seed traders" resulted Friday is a formal admonishment from the AfD's federal executive.

Its spokesman, Christian Luth, said the AfD warning was adopted unanimously by executive members.

Poggenburg, who chairs the AfD's Saxony-Anhalt state branch, delivered his latest tirade during an end-of-Carnival event in Nentmannsdorf, a township south of Dresden in the neighboring state of Saxony. Known as political Ash Wednesday, each of Germany's political parties gather for a day of drinking and banter. 

Video footage showing some 1,200 AfD adherents cheering his speech, with another AfD firebrand Björn Höcke and far-right publicist Jürgen Elsässer also on the stage, prompted widespread disgust nationwide.

Prosecutors in Dresden, already looking into a complaint lodged by a private person, have indicated that a prosecution foreshadowed by the Turkish Community in Germany,TGD, has not yet arrived.

Poggenburg, who labeled his address as "political satire," was responding to objections by the Turkish Community to plans by Chancellor Angela Merkel's next intended coalition to add the expression "Heimat" to the federal interior ministry's designation.

Read more - A deeper look at Germany's new Heimat Ministry

André Poggenburg on the AfD podium (picture-alliance/dpa/S. Kahnert)

André Poggenburg addressing AfD adherents in Nentmannsdorf, Saxony

'Undisguised hatred'

German Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, visiting Saxony-Anhalt on Thursday, spoke of politicians who sought to turn hateful behavior into strategy.

Sachsen-Anhalt's Protestant bishop, Ilse Junkermann, on Friday said Poggenburg's speech exhibited once again how the AfD used "undisguised hatred" to defame people.

"Our society needs responsible persons with prudence and farsightedness and not parliamentarians blinded by hate and contempt of others," she said.

The deputy chairman of Saxony-Anhalt's center-left Social Democrats, Andreas Steppuhn, on Friday described Poggenburg's speech as "far-right extremist, racist and inhumanely contemptuous" that amounted to an "open attack on the foundations of democracy."

TGD Turkish community chairman, Gökay Sofuoglu, told the Essen-based Funke Media Group on Thursday that Poppeburg's demeanor reminded him of "a speech from Joseph Goebbels" – Adolf Hitler's propaganda minister.

Insufficient grounds

Germany's VfS federal domestic intelligence agency based in Cologne said Friday in the wake of Poggenburg's utterances it saw no sufficient evidence to placed the AfD under surveillance for far-right extremism.

German law on intelligence gathering sets procedures for surveillance of persons or parties deemed as risks to the nation's free democratic order, requiring the VfS to report to a special parliamentary committee.

Professor Hajo Funke, a researcher on extremism in Germany, told German ZDF public television that Poggenburg's speech amounted to "racist rabble-rousing against the largest minority in Germany, the Turks."
 
"What Poggenburg said reminds me - and I say this for the first time - of what the Gauleiter in Berlin in the 1920s, Joseph Goebbels, unleashed in the way of agitation," said Funke.

In last September's federal election, the AfD entered the Bundestag parliament, becoming a 92-member opposition group. It had already garnered opposition seats in 14 regional state assemblies across Germany.

ipj/kms (dpa, epd)

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