The right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) adopted a stance against Islam in their policy manifesto on Sunday, adding fuel to the controversy that has consistently surrounded the party.
"Islam is not part of Germany," declared the new statement from the party, after the more moderate formulation to "stop Islamism but seek dialogue with Islam" was booed down by the 2,000 some party members in attendance at the two-day convention in the southern city of Stuttgart.
"Courage. Truth. Germany." read the banners that decorated the hall at the predominantly male meeting. The populists' new anti-Islam policy also called for a ban on minarets, the public call to prayer and headscarves in public schools.
The AfD also voted to include a position against the euro currency, the European Union as a political entity, the presence of nuclear weapons in Germany and deployment of German soldiers overseas in their manifesto.
AfD politicians and party members have insisted that they are not far-right, but merely injecting "healthy patriotism" into a political landscape lacking any. In an effort to quell the controversy surrounding their stance against Chancellor Angela Merkel's refugee policy, the group voted on Sunday to dissolve the regional chapter in the state of Saarland after links emerged to far-right extremist groups.
"In the summer of 2015, they gave us up for dead," said party leader Frauke Petry, reveling in the success of having entered half of Germany's state legislatures as well as the European Parliament in only three years since the AfD's 2013 founding.
Indeed, a recent poll by the Emnid Institute for the "Bild am Sonntag" newspaper found that the right-wing party is now Germany's third largest, beating out the environmentally-conscious Greens.
The Stuttgart convention was an attempt by the populists to rebrand themselves as a traditionalist, "family values" party - "modern conservatism," as co-leader Joerg Meuthen put it.
AfD sparks xenophobia concerns
But critics are concerned that the AfD represents an undercurrent of isolationism and xenophobia in German society. To that effect, some 1,500 protestors attempted to disrupt the conference when it opened on Saturday, resulting in scuffles with police. Overnight, a left-wing website published the names, telephone numbers, and addresses of about 2,000 party members.
It is not only the far-left that has slammed the AfD for its perceived backwardness. Peter Tauber, the Secretary-General of Chancellor Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU), told the "Bild am Sonntag" that their policies were not conservative, just "reactionary," making him the latest in a string of mainstream German politicians to condemn the AfD.