German far-right AfD politician resigns after converting to Islam | News | DW | 24.01.2018
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German far-right AfD politician resigns after converting to Islam

Arthur Wagner, a politician in the eastern state of Brandenburg, has become a Muslim. His Alternative for Germany (AfD) party entered the Bundestag last year following a populist, anti-Islam campaign.

The far-right, anti-Islam Alternative for Germany (AfD) party on Tuesday confirmed reports in the German media that one of its politicians, Arthur Wagner, has converted to Islam.

Wagner, a leading AfD member in the eastern German state of Brandenburg, resigned his position on the party's national executive committee on January 11 for personal reasons, AfD spokesman Daniel Friese said.

Read more: AfD politician 'censored' under new German hate speech law for anti-Muslim tweet

"The party has no problem with that," added Friese.

He insisted the AfD's national party included groups representing the interests of Muslims, as well as Christians and homosexuals.

Wagner, a German of Russian origin, had been a representative of the AfD since 2015. He was a member of the state committee with responsibility for churches and religious communities.

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Before joining the anti-Islam, anti-immigration party, he was a member of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU).

Wagner refused to answer questions from the German daily newspaper Tagesspiegel, who first reported his conversion to the Islamic faith.

"That's my private business," he told the newspaper. But he said there had been no attempt by the party to force him to resign.

The AfD entered Germany's national parliament, the Bundestag, for the first time following September's national election — becoming the third largest party.

Read more: Germany's far-right AfD targets refugees in first bill before parliament

Support for the party surged after Germany admitted more than 1.5 million refugees and migrants in 2015 and 2016 at the height of the European migration crisis.

The AfD argued that the country was under threat of "Islamization" and demanded stricter border controls to stem the number of newcomers arriving from war-torn and poverty-stricken countries in Africa and the Middle East.

Wagner is not the first far-right politician to convert to Islam, according to the German daily Die Welt.

Arnoud van Doorn was asked to leave Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders‘ Freedom Party (PVV). It later emerged he had taken up the Muslim faith and traveled to Saudi Arabia to perform the Haj (a pilgrimage to Mecca), the Guardian reported.

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