Posts Tagged ‘Islam’

Germany’s Seehofer says EU ‘patronizing’ eastern members on migrants — EU is unable to protect its external borders — Said European Commission’s “moralizing” tone toward eastern European states is wrong

March 18, 2018
March 18, 2018, at 12:02 a.m.

Germany’s Seehofer Says EU ‘Patronizing’ Eastern Members on Migrants

BERLIN (REUTERS) – German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has accused the European Union of adopting a patronizing stance in talks with eastern European members about the distribution of migrants.

Seehofer, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CSU Bavarian allies, made the comments in an interview with German Sunday newspaper Die Welt am Sonntag, days after sparking a public outcry by saying Islam did not belong to Germany.

Image result for Die Welt am Sonntag, seehofer, photos

The former Bavarian premier is keen to show his party is tough on migration abuses ahead of October state elections in Bavaria, to win back voters who defected in large numbers to the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) in the Sept. 24 national election. The AfD has also been critical of the EU.

Seehofer called for continued German border controls as long as the EU is unable to protect its external borders, and criticized the European Commission for what he called a “moralizing” tone toward eastern European states who have refused to take in asylum seekers under an EU-wide quota system.

Such an attitude was “counter-productive,” Seehofer said, adding, “Every country has its pride.”

The conservative politician, whose party has long been to the right of Merkel’s Christian Democrats, urged the EU to stop making decisions “over the heads” of member states.

“The EU commission is often patronizing,” he told the newspaper. “We need to put more energy into dialogue on the distribution of refugees. If we keep negotiating patiently, a majority of countries will support (it).”

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer and Chancellor Angela Merkel

New Interior Minister Horst Seehofer had told Bild newspaper “Islam doesn’t belong to Germany,” but added that “the Muslims who live with us are, of course, part of Germany.

Other countries could contribute in other ways, perhaps by sending more personnel to the EU borders, or by contributing more for joint border patrols, he said.

Seehofer’s remarks could exacerbate tensions in the uneasy new “grand coalition” between Merkel’s conservatives and the center-left Social Democrats.

Merkel firmly rebuffed Seehofer last week, saying that Germany’s 4 million Muslims belonged to the country, as did their religion. Leading SPD members also criticized his remarks on Islam.

Johannes Kahrs, a member of parliament and spokesman for the conservative wing of the SPD, accused Seehofer of using his new ministerial post to campaign for the CSU in Bavaria.

“Building bridges and not digging trenches is the responsibility of all decent Germans,” he told the Handelsblatt newspaper.


Boko Haram in Nigeria: “They are achieving the mission they have set out to do.” — “We must unite against them.”

March 17, 2018


The leader of the Northern Elders Forum, NEF, Professor Ango Abdullahi has voiced his concern about the lingering killings in some parts of Nigeria.

Abdullahi in a statement on Friday said blaming Fulani herdsmen for the killings was political.

Image may contain: 1 person

He noted that killings can only be stopped when there was a right communication.

The statement read: “Killings are activities that the government did not envisage but the killings are a challenge to everybody. So, everybody should be blamed for the killings. Communication resolves everything. How much communication is there? And if there are no instruments of communicating, we must establish them rather than buying the weapons of war.

“But let me tell you and I am saying it with all sense of responsibility. Many people are playing politics with the killings. They are initiating a particular pattern of belief, which would undermine the credibility of their group in future. We had the Biafran war in 1967 -1970 and the South East held Nigeria to a standstill before it ended. So, nobody could undermine the Nigerian/Biafran war.

“Now, the issue of militancy confronted this country and reduced our oil production to less than one million barrels per day. Nobody can undermine the works the militants did in the Niger Delta. The National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) confronted Nigeria peacefully after the annulment of the 1993 election and in spite of what you may think, there was no coup in Nigeria that was resisted that ever succeeded. The 1993 annulment of the election of MKO Abiola was resisted through the activities of NADECO and so on and so forth, and that was how the compromises of 1999 brought in former President Olusegun Obasanjo from the South West zone of the country.

“From what I said now, you cannot undermine the Niger Delta, you cannot undermine the Igbo and you cannot undermine the Yoruba. And when the problem of the Fulani caliphate was there, they discovered that they could not undermine the Kanuri and the Tivs.

“But do you know what we are doing now because of politics? Anything that happens now, we say it is the Fulani herdsmen whereas it is since the collapse of the Libyan army and the problem in Mali that caused the free flow of weapons into Nigeria especially the activities of Boko Haram. And instead of looking at the challenges confronting Nigeria, we are saying that it is the herdsmen that are doing it. Cattle rustlers also seize the cattle and kill the herdsmen which is another issue confronting Nigeria but we in Nigeria because of politics always say killings are by the Fulani herdsmen.

“Do you know that what Othman Dan Fodio could not achieve when he was quoted as having said that he would dip the Quoran in the sea is being achieved through stupid politicking by saying that everything that happens in Nigeria is by the Fulani herdsmen? Anywhere you go to, people would say we cannot go to farm because of the Fulani herdsmen. This is when as a matter of fact, the Fulani herdsmen are in more danger than any other Nigerian. Do we talk of Igbo armed robbers? Do we talk of Yoruba 419ers and so on? We talk of all these as crimes and we should be talking of the killings as also a crime. But because of politics, we are going into areas to make our children believe that the fear of Fulani herdsmen is the beginning of wisdom. So, what Othman Dan Fodio could not achieve when he was alive in Nigeria, we are achieving it through communication and making our own children afraid of the Fulani.

“Remember that the Fulani are in the minority in this country. Can you see the way we are moving in the way of deforestation and who would pay for it; our children. We must have the right communication. So, I want to say that criminals do the killings and we must all come together to fight it.

“I am worried over the situation but do not think that it is because the election is coming next year. The Boko Haram sect is fighting a war and they are not fighting a war because there is an election. They are fighting the war because they believe in what they are doing. They are ‘haram’. In other words, they are discouraging people from going to school. So, if Boko Haram abducts people like they did recently in Dapchi, they could not go to school. It is an area that people do not want to go to school and with what happened, you further discourage them from going to school.

“They are achieving the mission they have set out to do. So, they are not looking for election but do not forget that since they have been degraded, they would look for soft targets and where the military is weak to carry out their activities. If they go to the market, they are not there to kidnap anybody but to kill people. They have their members who are suicide bombers. The perception they have is what no Igbo man or Yoruba man would have. They say if you kill yourself, you are going to paradise. Tell me any Southerner whether Yoruba, Igbo, Edo, Urhobo and so on that would kill himself in order to go to paradise. Nobody would do that. But over there, you are told that if you kill someone for a good cause, you are going to paradise. And that is not even in the Quoran. When I was in a Quoranic school in Auchi, I was told that if you kill a Christian, you have not committed an offence. I grew up to discover that it was a lie. It is not there anywhere in the Quoran.

“But then, the Prophet Muhammed said that there would be 73 sects in Islam and only one would be correct. Only one that abides by the provision of the Quoran is correct. The Quoran has dos and donts which says that you do this, you go to paradise and you do that, you go to hell. I am not aware of any book that says it so clearly where you go to when you sin. So people now take the road they want to take and when a scholar moves in the direction of using religion as a weapon, then you get what we have in Nigeria today.

“So, we have to really communicate in the direction of peace and not war. Someone wins an election, takes over and governs and someone loses election and gets prepared to contest again. That is what happens in Britain, America and others. Election should not be a do-or-die thing.

“Do you know that the whole of Nigeria is porous? How many areas do we have? The borders are thousands of kilometers porous. Do you know that around 1980 or so, people of Chad came and invaded Maiduguri and I think that President Muhammadu Buhari was the GOC that time.

“So, these people have been coming but do not forget that Nigeria is at war with Boko Haram. Therefore the whole world of insurgents –ISIS, Tuaregs, al-Qaeda and so on are there fighting. Perhaps, if we look deep enough, we may discover that all these people we call Fulani herdsmen are insurgents who have infiltrated Nigeria. So, the nation is fighting more than the Boko Haram sect. We are currently fighting the whole world of insurgents and that is what Nigerians should be thinking about.

“It is a war that Nigeria must fight and whatever government that we have, the insurgents are there to undermine security. Nigeria is 60 per cent rural and in the rural areas, how many security officials do we have there? So, we have a lot of problems on our hands and we must unite to address these problems.”



Germany: Is Islam Part of German Culture? Ministers Respond to Seehofer’s “Islam doesn’t belong to Germany.”

March 17, 2018

Chancellor Merkel led the response to the new interior minister’s remarks, saying the 4 million Muslims living in Germany and their religion belong in the country. SPD ministers called for practical integration measures.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer and Chancellor Angela Merkel

New Interior Minister Horst Seehofer had told Bild newspaper “Islam doesn’t belong to Germany,” but added that “the Muslims who live with us are, of course, part of Germany.”

Seehofer, a former head of Bavaria’s Christian Social Union (CSU), has always held a harder line on immigration than his coalition partners in Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU). The CSU also faces state elections in October in which the Alternative for Germany (AfD), anti-immigrant party presents a challenge.

Asked about Seehofer’s remarks, Merkel said on Friday that while Germany was shaped by its Judeo-Christian heritage “there are 4 million Muslims living in Germany.”

“They can live their religion here, too,” the chancellor said. “These Muslims belong to Germany and in the same way their religion belongs to Germany, that is to say Islam.” She added that the form of Islam practiced must conform to the country’s constitution.

belongs to Germany.”

Chancellor reacts to a controversial interview by Interior Minister :

Read moreNet migration to Germany sank by half in 2016: statistics office

SPD ministers look to practicalities

Three Social Democratic Party (SPD) ministers reacted to Seehofer’s comments, calling for practical solutions rather than divisive debate.

Federal Justice Minister Katarina Barley proposed an end to theoretical debate on the affiliation of Islam to Germany. “Theoretical debates have been going on for long enough,” Barley told Saturday’s edition of the Rheinische Post. Instead, the focus should be on practical solutions for problems: “As far as our values are concerned, this is and remains the fundamental law – the basis of our coexistence.”

Family Minister Franziska Giffey expressed a similar sentiment: “Local debates do not help at all,” she said during an interview with broadcaster ZDF. The focus should be on organizing the people who live in Germany, whatever their origin or religion, so they can live together and shape society’s social peace.


'Merkel contradicts Seehofer' was the Bild headline after his remarks‘Merkel contradicts Seehofer’ was the Bild headline after his remarks were put on the front page

Seehofer accused of electioneering

Labor Minister Hubertus Heil told Funke Media Group newspapers on Saturday, “We have to talk about work and education and about rules for our coexistence.”

“The debate that Horst Seehofer is continuing serves no substantive purpose and is being used to create a particular atmosphere ahead of the state election in Bavaria,” he said. Bavarians will vote for a state parliament in October.

Heil called for “fair chances and clear rules” for immigrants under the rule of law. He spoke out against any form of extremism but said that religious freedom existed in Germany and that included “the people of the Muslim faith” who also belonged to Germany.

Saturday’s newspapers in Germany also commented extensively on Seehofer’s remarks. Most focused on Seehofer’s use of his new role as federal interior minister to make political points ahead of his state election.

jm/sms (Reuters, dpa, AP)


Is the Islamic faith part of German culture? Merkel says ‘Yes” — German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer says ‘No’

March 16, 2018

In a slight to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, new Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said Islam is not part of German culture. His comments underscore his efforts to push the government to the right.

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (picture-alliance/dpa/M. Balk)

Germany’s new government may now finally be in place, but  Chancellor Angela Merkel’s grand coalition appears to be off to a rocky start.

On Thursday, newly inaugurated Interior Minister Horst Seehofer disagreed with the belief that the Islamic faith is part of German culture — a statement that Merkel has repeatedly made since 2015.

“No. Islam does not belong to Germany,” he said in an interview with the German daily Bild newspaper. “Germany has been shaped by Christianity.”

Read moreA deeper look at Germany’s new Interior and Heimat Ministry

Certain Christian-inspired aspects are part of daily life and culture in Germany, Seehofer said, naming examples such as shops being closed on Sundays and public holidays that correspond to church holidays like Easter, Pentecost and Christmas.

Seehofer told the paper that people who practice Islam are, of course, part of Germany.

“The Muslims who live with us obviously belong to Germany,” he noted, adding that “false consideration for others clearly does not mean we give up our country-specific traditions and customs.”

Read moreGermany’s future interior minister Horst Seehofer vows to increase deportations

Seehofer’s move to the Heimat Ministry

Seehofer is taking the reins of the interior ministry, which is now officially called the Interior, Construction and Heimat Ministry. The term Heimat — which roughly translates to “homeland” — stirs up feelings of being at home and belonging to a place, but it also comes laden with connotations from the Nazi era.

Read more‘Heimat’ finds a homecoming in German politics

During his interview with the Bild, Seehofer rejected the criticism that the new German Cabinet doesn’t include any people of color, or those with an immigrant background.

“Do I have to be a doctor in order to be health minister?” he asked, adding that an immigrant background does not make someone qualified to be a good politician.

Seehofer’s comments also depict the Bavarian politician’s intent to steer his Bavaria-based Christian Social Union (CSU) and the new German government into a more conservative direction and win back voters who switched to the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD).

Read moreGermany: Is Bavaria set for an anti-Merkel conservative swing?

The phrase “Islam doesn’t belong to Germany” was a central pillar of the AfD’s party platform in last year’s general election. The populist party is now the third-largest bloc in parliament and Germany’s largest opposition party.

Seehofer has also vowed to increase deportations of rejected asylum-seekers in his role as interior minister.

The CSU leader has frequently bumped heads with Merkel in the past and has been vocal in his criticism of the chancellor’s refugee and immigration policies.

Merkel started a fourth term as chancellor on Wednesday after her Christian Democrats, the CSU and the Social Democrats sealed a coalition deal after months of negotiations.

Philippines: Presidential language, conduct unfit for our classrooms and TV shows

March 8, 2018



 / 05:18 AM March 08, 2018

Someday, a generation more civilized than us will wonder why we elected — and tolerated — a President with such a foul mouth.

They will cite the curses and wonder why, despite the same expletives considered unfit in our classrooms and TV shows, despite the same rudeness regarded as unbecoming of critics and journalists, these were deemed suitable on the presidential stage.

The Harry Roques of this world explain that his cursing is a way of identifying with the “common people,” who feel betrayed by those who speak “decently” but act treasonously. But surely many of our countrymen who use the same language likewise take issue with his use of it, expecting more from the highest official of the land. Moreover, even those who see his actions as speaking louder than his speech will have to ask why we cannot have a president who is good in both word and deed.

Others, meanwhile, say he’s just joking — and must be understood in the context of “Bisaya culture.” But even today many Bisaya speakers say that his speech is unrepresentative of their values. As someone replied to my tweet about this topic: “I’m Bisaya and this continued use of ‘Bisaya humor’ to justify the President’s uncultured mouth is insulting to me.”

In any case, beyond the curses themselves, it is the content of his speech that make his language even more unacceptable.

First, there’s his misogyny, his ludicrous jokes about rape, his lecherous remarks about women, his lurid references to condom use, and, most recently, his call for soldiers to shoot female rebels “in the vagina.” Someday, a future generation will be revulsed at these instances — and wonder why we did not condemn these more forcefully and collectively.

Second, there’s his racism, his insensitive remarks about foreign nations and individuals: from his inane invocation of Jewish victims of the Holocaust to his characterization of Barack Obama as “so black and arrogant.” Not content with insulting Catholic priests, he cites a misinterpretation of Islam by offering “42 virgins” to prospective visitors to our country, achieving the dubious distinction of being racist and misogynist at the same time.

Then there’s his lack of respect for people: from calling the US ambassador “bakla” (as if it were an insult) to attempting to shame Leila de Lima for being “immoral” (as if he weren’t); from calling drug users “not humans” to telling protesting jeepney drivers to “suffer in poverty and hunger.” Instead of elevating public discourse he has lowered it, and while his insults may reveal more about him than the people he insulted, he does not carry his name alone, but that of our nation.

I am writing this for the future, when historians will seek to make sense of our time. There will be future revisionists,  latter-day Andanars, who will conjure up a golden age, and if they are creative enough, they might even succeed in casting Rodrigo Duterte as a philosopher-king, in the same way that people today are imagining Marcos not just as a hero but also as an enlightened ruler.

But I am also writing for the present, when we cannot surrender the standards that we have held for our leaders. And neither can we sanitize the truth by accepting “kabastusan” as sarcasm or hyperbole — or referring to it as “colorful” or “controversial” language. There are many ways to be honest without demeaning others. There are many ways to be brutally frank without brutalizing the presidency. Powerful Mr. Duterte may have become, but power is never a substitute for truth or for morality, and while his henchmen may yet rewrite the Constitution, they cannot rewrite our norms, our values.

“Take him seriously, not literally,” the Harry Roques of this world say, baldly suggesting that, like the proverbs of Solomon or the novels of Jose Rizal, his words contain some profound, hidden truth. But the more we look at the things he has said, the only truth that emerges is that of hypocrisy, lack of empathy, and moral bankruptcy.

If an emperor commands his subjects to be fully clothed, he must at least do so with clothes. If Mr. Duterte wants to uphold our nation’s dignity, he must speak and act in a dignified way.

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Buddhist mobs target Sri Lanka’s Muslims despite state of emergency

March 7, 2018


COLOMBO (Reuters) – Buddhist mobs attacked mosques and businesses belonging to Sri Lanka’s minority Muslims overnight, police said on Wednesday, despite the imposition of a state of emergency to restore peace in the bitterly divided island.

Police imposed an indefinite curfew in the central highlands district of Kandy where the violence has been centered since Sunday night following the death of a Buddhist youth in an altercation with a group of Muslims.

But police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara said there had been “several incidents” throughout Tuesday night in the Kandy area, popular with tourists for its tea gardens.

Sri Lankan soldiers and police officers outside a vandalized building in Digana, a suburb of Kandy, on Tuesday after mob attacks there. Credit Pradeep Pathiran/Associated Press

“The police arrested seven people. Three police officers were injured from the incidents,” Gunasekara told Reuters. There was no information about how many civilians had been injured in the attacks, he said.

Tension has been growing between the two communities in Sri Lanka over the past year, with some hardline Buddhist groups accusing Muslims of forcing people to convert to Islam and vandalizing Buddhist archaeological sites.

Some Buddhist nationalists have also protested against the presence in Sri Lanka of Muslim Rohingya asylum-seekers from mostly Buddhist Myanmar, where Buddhist nationalism has also been on the rise.

President Maithripala Sirisena imposed a state of emergency for seven days on Tuesday, aiming to stop the violence from spreading to other parts of the country still healing from a 26-year civil war against Tamil separatists that ended in 2009.


Elite Sri Lankan forces and police officers stand guard near a house burnt down in the clashes in Digana, central Kandy (Reuters)

A government minister said the latest violence in Kandy had been whipped up by people from outside the area. “There is an organized conspiracy behind these incidents,” Sarath Amunugama, a senior minister told reporters in Colombo.

He said the government will implement the rule of law impartially in the overwhelmingly Buddhist nation in which Muslims make up 9 percent of the 21 million population, the smallest minority after ethnic Tamils, most of whom are Hindus.

Police ordered Dialog Axiata, the country’s largest mobile phone service provider, to restrain internet connections in the Kandy district after postings appeared on Facebook threatening attacks on Muslims.

Reporting by Shihar Aneez and Ranga Sirilalt; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani and Michael Perry

Sri Lanka declares emergency to quell anti-Muslim riots

March 6, 2018


© AFP/File | Sri Lankan police have imposed a curfew in the riot-hit central district of Kandy, home to famous tea plantations and Buddhist relics
COLOMBO (AFP) – Sri Lanka Tuesday declared a nationwide state of emergency to quell anti-Muslim riots that have killed at least two people and damaged dozens of mosques and homes.”The cabinet of ministers decided on tough measures, including a 10-day nationwide state of emergency,” Minister of City Planning Rauff Hakeem said as police imposed a curfew in the riot-hit central district of Kandy.

The government deployed heavily-armed police commandos in the hill station region, which is popular with tourists, after rioters defied an overnight curfew and went on the rampage.

The curfew in the district was extended after the body of a Muslim man was pulled from the ashes of a burnt building, threatening to further raise communal tensions that have flared up across Sri Lanka in recent weeks.

The emergency declaration gives authorities sweeping powers to arrest and detain suspects for long periods, and allows the government to deploy forces where needed.

It is the first time in seven years Sri Lanka has resorted to such a measure. The island nation was under a state of emergency for nearly three decades as government forces battled Tamil rebels in a civil war that ended in 2009.

Hakeem said the riots were concentrated in Kandy — home to famous tea plantations and Buddhist relics — but the government wanted to send a strong message given outbreaks of communal violence elsewhere recently.

A police spokesman said earlier Tuesday hundreds of commandos from the police Special Task Force had been deployed to Kandy to restore order and enforce the curfew.

Muslim homes, business and mosques were badly damaged in riots Monday triggered by the death of a Sinhalese man at the hands of a mob last week.

The Sinhalese are a mainly Buddhist ethnic group making up nearly three-quarters of Sri Lanka’s 21 million people. Muslims account for 10 percent of its population.

More than two dozen arrests have been made and an inquiry opened into police conduct in Kandy, just the latest region to be plagued by religious and ethnic conflict.

Mobs set fire to Muslim-owned businesses and attacked a mosque in the east of the country last week after a Muslim chef was accused of adding contraceptives to food sold to Sinhalese.

The government dismissed the allegation as baseless and ordered the arrest of those fomenting unrest in the area.

Last November riots in the south of the island left one man dead and homes and vehicles damaged.

In June 2014 riots between Buddhists and Muslims left four dead and many injured.

That violence was instigated by a Buddhist extremist group whose leaders are on trial accused of spurring religious conflict.

Indonesia blocks online-blogging site Tumblr over porn

March 6, 2018


© AFP/File | Tumblr has fallen foul of Indonesia’s government
JAKARTA (AFP) – Indonesia has blocked online blogging service Tumblr over pornographic content, the government said Tuesday, in Jakarta’s latest crackdown on obscenity.

The government of the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation blocked Tumblr on Monday, saying the New York-based company had not replied to its February letter demanding that pornographic content be scrubbed from the platform within 48 hours.

The ministry of technology and information said it had received multiple reports about obscene content on the microblogging and social networking website, which has about 400 million blogs on its service globally.

“After investigating, we found at least 360 Tumblr accounts contained pornographic content,” ministry spokesman Noor Iza told AFP.

Tumblr could not immediately be reached for comment.

Jakarta in 2016 threatened to block Tumblr’s service in the country of 260 million but did not follow through on the threat.

The ministry on Tuesday said Tumblr would be accessible again once the company complied with the government’s order.

The shutdown was met with anger by some internet users.

“Those 360 accounts are less than one percent” of the total users, one said on Twitter.

“It’s like burning an entire forest just to kill one worm. You might as well block Google.”

Indonesia brought in a tough anti-pornography law in 2008 that criminalises any work deemed obscene.

It blocked popular video-sharing website Vimeo in 2014 after accusing it of hosting pornographic content.

Last November the government threatened to ban social network Facebook and messaging app WhatsApp unless the platforms removed obscene Graphics Interchange Format material from their services.

This year Google pulled Blued, one of the world’s largest gay dating apps, from the Indonesian version of its online store in response to government demands.

Leading Pakistani cleric slams Qatari politicization of Hajj — “It seems Qatar is following the wrong path, and this is something serious for the sanctities of Islamic values.”

February 6, 2018

 Image may contain: 4 people, people sitting, people standing and beard

Chairman Pakistan Ulmaa Council Hafiz Tahir Ashrafi speaks during a press conference at Lahore Press Club. (Photo courtesy: social media)
ISLAMABAD: Qatar’s attempts to politicize the Hajj pilgrimage are “alarming for Muslims around the world,” the head of an alliance of Pakistani clerics told Arab News.
“The way the Saudi government is taking care of the Two Holy Mosques is a matter of pride for Muslims across the globe,” said Hafiz Tahir Ashrafi, head of the Pakistan Ulema Council.
“Qatar should focus on its own internal issues, and it needs to settle matters with GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries.”
Trying to internationalize Hajj could have far-reaching consequences for Qatar, he said. “There’s no justification for this when Muslims are happy about the arrangements made by the Saudi government,” he added.
“It seems Qatar is following the wrong path, and this is something serious for the sanctities of Islamic values.”
Saudi Arabia previously said it deemed Qatar’s attempts to internationalize Hajj a “declaration of war.”

German AfD hardens radical, anti-Muslim course railing against “barbaric, Muslim, gang-raping hordes”

January 10, 2018


© AFP/File / by Frank ZELLER | Von Storch started 2018 by attacking police in Cologne for tweeting in Arabic.


The Alternative for Germany party started the year by railing against “barbaric, Muslim, gang-raping hordes”, ending months of relative post-election calm and any remaining doubt about its hardening far-right course.

If the AfD had been at pains to portray itself as a patriotic conservative force after the September 24 polls, the latest slur signalled that an extremist faction is winning the battle for control, say political scientists.

“The radical course has been cemented,” said Hajo Funke of Berlin’s Free University, adding that the AfD was now openly reaching out to the right-wing extremist fringe, including neo-Nazis and white-pride Identitarians.

Funke said the former anti-euro party had steadily radicalised, purged its more moderate figures, built bridges to groups such as the anti-Islam Pegida street movement, and had never publicly expelled a far-right member.

While the AfD’s declared enemy, Chancellor Angela Merkel, has been struggling to form a new government with the Social Democrats, the AfD has barely been out of the headlines in recent weeks.

In a familiar pattern, its provocations have been followed by vague apologies but also complaints about “political correctness” and censorship by a liberal media and political “thought police”.

Meanwhile, long-unthinkable content has appeared on social media despite tough new rules against online hate speech.

Days ago, said Funke and news reports, an AfD local politician in Berlin’s multicultural Neukoelln district, Franziska Lorenz-Hoffmann, briefly posted a Nazi-era propaganda poster on Facebook that warned the “German woman” to “keep your blood pure”.

– ‘Groping migrant mobs’ –

AfD deputy leader Beatrix von Storch started 2018 by attacking police in the western city of Cologne for tweeting in Arabic, as well as in German, English and French, on New Year’s Eve.

“What the hell is going on with this country?” she wrote. “Did you mean to placate the barbaric, Muslim, gang-raping hordes of men?”

The comment pointed to mass sexual assaults there in 2016 by mostly North African men whom the far-right labelled “rapefugees”.

The inflammatory tweet was quickly taken down, while Cologne police filed a criminal complaint.

AfD parliamentary group leader Alice Weidel chimed in with a “solidarity tweet” about “marauding, groping migrant mobs”.

And AfD chairman Alexander Gauland charged that the new online “censorship law” amounted to “Stasi (secret police) methods” from the former communist East Germany, a region which is today the party’s heartland.

Another tweet, from AfD lawmaker Jens Maier’s account, defamed tennis legend Boris Becker’s adult son Noah as “a little half-negro”.

The tweet was deleted, and Maier apologised while insisting it was written by a staff member who no longer worked for him.

The party’s leadership warned Maier to take greater care in managing his employees.

Noah Becker filed a criminal complaint and his father demanded “consequences” in an article for a Sunday newspaper.

“That’s what they always do in the AfD, that’s their trick: put something out there, then distance yourself from it,” Becker charged.

– ‘Unleash aggression’ –

The AfD, formed in 2013 as an anti-euro party, two year later shifted course to capitalise on fears about a mass influx of more than one million asylum seekers to Germany, while demanding “Merkel must go”.

It won almost 13 percent of the vote on September 24, the strongest showing for a far-right party in the post-war era.

There has been no sign of voters deserting the AfD after using it to register discontent with the leftward drift of Merkel’s Christian Democrats at the election, as some political observers had speculated.

A new poll this week by Spiegel Online gave it 14.7 percent support.

In a country that has long struggled to deal with its collective guilt over the Nazi era and the Holocaust, the taboo-breaking new extremists have reawakened deep fears about rising xenophobia and race hate.

Berlin daily Tagesspiegel said “the worst thing is that, the more AfD officials say such things, the more quickly they become normal. The outrage wears off, and at some point there will no longer be an outcry.”

Robert Vehrkampf of think-tank the Bertelsmann Foundation called the AfD a generally right-wing populist party that “breaks taboos in a calculated way to reach right-wing extremist voters”.

Funke said the recent hardline tweets “did not happen because someone’s computer mouse slipped, they were calculated”.

“Their idea is we unleash the aggression, we want to integrate the far-right, the neo-Nazis, into our party.”

by Frank ZELLER