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Is Germany's far-right AfD party a one-trick pony?

Frank Suyak
July 3, 2019

The party's deputy leader in parliament, Beatrix von Storch, tells DW's Conflict Zone: Germany is in great danger if we take in more millions.

DW Conflict Zone | Beatrix von Storch
Image: DW

Conflict Zone: Beatrix von Storch

Does the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party have any alternatives for the country besides shutting Muslims out? The party’s deputy leader in parliament, Beatrix von Storch, disputes that, but in an exclusive interview on Conflict Zone said, "If we take in more millions, we are in great danger."

When host Tim Sebastian asked von Storch whether AfD rhetoric was calculated to make people terrified of Muslims, she said, "We were thinking Islamization of our country is something which is dangerous for our culture and we don't want that … You can think Islamization of our culture is good. We think it's bad."

Germany is in great danger

Sebastian asked von Storch about an AfD Facebook post from May in which the party implied more than a million refugees were waiting to come to Germany. In the post the far right party said the German government had a "resettlement" program. Sebastian challenged von Storch that the AfD claims were nonsense. 

The AfD deputy leader in parliament said she thought the actual number of people who want to come to Europe is higher.

"I think the number is too small and I think when you go and you take the numbers from how many people from Africa would like to go, and move towards to Europe, and then probably maybe lots of them to Germany, the numbers probably are even bigger," she said.

Von Storch went on to say the AfD had a broader political point. "We want to have the people in the world know … It makes no sense to move over to Germany because they are not able to come in. I think this is what saves lives if we send out the political signal that all those millions of people are not starting to move to the north and to Germany because we will not be able to take them all in," she said.

"Germany is in great danger, yes. If we take in more millions, we are in great danger," the AfD deputy leader said.

Von Storch said integration of immigrants in Germany had not worked. "We cannot handle it, all the numbers who are here at the moment. It's already too much. I don't know whether you're aware of all the criminal rates."

Crime rates

Germany's Federal Police Office, the BKA, says total crimehas decreased since 2016.

When asked about the increase in attacks against migrant centers since 2015, von Storch said her party rejected violence: "We are condemning all violence in every area."

Sebastian asked whether AfD messaging, in particular about Muslims coming to Germany was making violence more likely: "Saying Muslims equal threat, Muslims equal threat, over and over again, some people are going to react badly and some people are going to turn violent, aren´t they?" he asked von Storch.

"Words matter, don't they?" Sebastian continued.

DW Conflict Zone | Beatrix von Storch
AfD Deputy Leader in Parliament, Beatrix von Storch, with Tim Sebastian in Conflict Zone interiew, 1 July 2019.Image: DW

The AfD parliamentary deputy leader said her party did not condone violence, but did not want Islam to "have an impact on our social life."

Asked if the AfD would tone down its rhetoric, von Storch said her party was targeted more than others.

"There are far more incidents happening to us than to every other member of any other party. So, we are the ones being physically attacked. We need police protection," she said.

Lübcke killing

"But you didn’t get murdered," Sebastian said referencing the shooting of Christian Democrat politician Walter Lübcke. Known for his pro-migrant views, Lübcke's killing outside his home has rocked Germany. A far-right supporter admitted to the killing but has since withdrawn the confession. 

Sebastian asked the AfD parliamentarian why members of her party blamed others for his death.

"If not for the illegal opening of the borders with the uncontrolled, continual mass arrival of migrants, Lübke would still be alive," Martin Hohmann, AfD member of the Bundestag, was quoted in a party press release after Lübcke's death.

Another AfD member said right-wing extremist violence in Germany was little more than "bird droppings" compared to left-wing or Islamist violence in the country.

Von Storch called the comment unacceptable and said the AfD has launched legal measures to expel the individual who had made that statement.

In May’s European Parliament elections, the AfD increased its share of the vote compared to 2014, but it was down from the most recent national election in Germany.

Infografik HOCHRECHNUNG 22.55 EU Wahl 2019 - Deutschland ENG

Von Storch said the party planned to work with other nationalist parties in the European parliament to return sovereignty to nation states. “What we need is deep reforms on the institutions on the European Union. This is what we need.” 

In Germany the AfD is facing fines in a party financing scandal. Von Storch said the case was not yet settled and that her party’s lawyers were still fighting it.