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AfD leader Petry

Elizabeth Schumacher May 22, 2016

Frauke Petry, of the nationalist AfD party, has accused Muslims of preferring Shariah law to state legislation. A leader of Germany's Muslim community says the AfD's rhetoric is reminiscent of Nazi speech.

Deutschland AfD Bundesparteitag in Stuttgart Frauke Petry
Image: Reuters/W. Rattay

The leader of the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party turned heads once again on Sunday by upping her anti-Islam rhetoric just one day ahead of a planned meeting with the leader of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany (ZMD).

Speaking with the "Bild am Sonntag" newspaper, Frauke Petry warned that Muslim immigration to Germany was threatening everything Europe had accomplished over the last two centuries.

"We can see that the significant achievements of the Enlightenment are in danger, as long as we continue to pursue this path of unregulated migration connected to promoting the importance of a religious radicalism," Petry told the paper.

She went on to accuse Muslims of wishing to implement Sharia law. "When more than half of Muslims, when in doubt, would give Sharia precedence over relevant national laws," then "something we can no longer control" will be at work in the country, Petry said.

Petry has led the young protest party since founder Bernd Lucke was ousted last summer, and it charted an increasingly controversial course focused on opposition to Chancellor Angela Merkel's open-door policy to refugees fleeing conflict.

At their convention earlier this month, the populists agreed to adopt the stance that "Islam does not belong in Germany" as part of the party's first official manifesto.

Zentralrat der Muslime in Deutschland, Vorsitzender Aiman Mazyek
"We want to know, why do you hate us?" said Mazyek in his invitation for a sit-down with PetryImage: picture-alliance/dpa/O. Berg

Mazyek: AfD recalling xenophobia of the Nazi regime

Aiman Mazyek, head of the ZMD, responded to Petry's comments in the "Welt am Sonntag" newspaper. "Populism, personal attacks and hate are no form of dialogue, and neither do they lend strength to arguments," said Mazyek.

Mazyek further accused the AfD of revisiting a painful chapter in German history. Not since the Nazi regime had a political party in Germany attempted to "discredit an entire religious community and threaten it existentially."

Petry and Mazyek were set to meet in Berlin on Monday to discuss her party's anti-Islam platform.

es/jm (AFP, dpa)