September 28, 2016 –
By Vyacheslav Shcherbakov for Fort Russ – translated by J. Arnoldski –
Continued from Part 1
The youth wing of the party, Young Alternative, was formed in June of 2013. Individuals between the ages of 14 and 35 can join the party and become members of the youth branch, but not members of the party. According to their own records, in July 2016 Young Alternative already counted around 900 members. The federal leadership of Young Alternative is made up of 12 people, two of whom are the chairmen. Co-chairmanship became political fashion in Germany largely on the initiative of the Greens, but beyond this any similarity between the Greens and Young Alternative ends. The leadership does not feature a single woman.
According to the organization’s charter adopted in January 2015, Young Alternative “stands shoulder to shoulder with its mother party” and “is an initiator of acceleration and an innovative engine for AfG.” Following AfG, the youth organization stands for Germany rejecting the Euro, “the democratic transformation of the EU into an economic community”, and the formation of a “Europe of nations.” In the foreign policy sphere, Young Alternative stands for ending confrontation with Russia. Their demand to end financial support for Hamas and Palestinian autonomy can be considered not only as an attack on Islamism, but also as an attack on the Left and, simultaneously, a nod in the direction of Israel. The most important foreign policy task of Young Alternative is the establishment of a geopolitical and strategic alliance between Germany and the secular Shiite and moderate Sunni states of the Middle East against “Salafi Islamism.”
Following their “senior comrades,” Young Alternative opposes Turkey joining the EU, as the country “politically and, above all, ideologically, does not relate to Europe” and “does not share our European values.” Turkey is blamed for discriminating against Christians on its own territory, Erdogan’s anti-American and anti-Israeli rhetoric in relation to the conflict in Gaza, and especially for financing Islamist activity on German territory, in particular the construction of a large number of mosques. “The Turkish government exercises constant and comprehensive influence over Turks living in Germany, which impedes their integration and promotes the formation of parallel communities.” A significant part of their program is dedicated to calls to limit immigration and stop the Islamization of Germany. In the immigration sphere, it is proposed that the Australian experience be adopted and bar, for example, African refugees from entering Europe, instead organizing camps for them directly in Africa.
AfD vs. Islamization
Young Alternative has very radically spoken out against certain elements of the Islamic tradition’s female clothing, the right to wear which is a heated debate in German society. They demand that Germany ban the public wearing of burqas and prohibit persons employed in the public service from wearing hijabs. In the first case, the ban is not meant to relate to personal life, and in the second, it is meant to be in force exclusively in the work place.
Amidst the growing immigration crisis, the struggle against radical Islam has become one of the most important topics for Alternative for Germany. For many AfG supporters, the “creeping Islamization of Germany” is symbolized by the construction of mosques en masse on German territory. As part of the AfG’s faction in the Landtag of Thuriniga’s campaign against the construction of mosques in the eastern part of Erfurt, they published the book Islam: Facts and Arguments. According to the statement of the faction’s chairman, Bjorn Hocke, “As part of a broad outreach campaign, the faction plans to distribute 100 thousand copies of the book. Islam makes do distinction between religion and politics. For Islam, one corresponds to the other, and this interpretation is incompatible with our constitution.” The book’s author is a former university lecturer in Jena, political analyst Michael Henkel. The scholar of Islamic studies from Jena, Tilman Seidensticker, described this study as fairly competent, though not written by a specialist on Islam, but a political analyst. The Islamic studies scholar pointed to “tendencies hostile to Islam” in the book. According to Seidensticker, the author “cited publications critical of Islam alongside serious sources.”
Henkel’s book covers the period from the emergence of Islam to its transformation into a global religion. The author focuses on such controversial topics as “women and Islam,” “Islam and anti-Semitism,” “state law, Sharia law, and Muslim ‘parallel justice,’ the “problem of headscarfs in public service,” “Islamism and Jihadism,” etc. Special attention is paid to the problem of the construction of mosques which, as Henkel believes, are “economic, political, and social centers” unlike Christian “houses of God.” In his opinion, mosque communities are “not only religious but, as a rule, also political organizations and therefore comparable to political parties.” He once again raises the issue that such odious “critics of Islam” as Udo Ulfkotte have drawn attention to: “Is anyone who criticizes Islam an Islamophobe?” In the conclusion, the author poses what is probably the main question of the book: “Should we fear Islam?” In Henkel’s opinion, in order to ensure the German way of life and culture, it is necessary that this task “once again become the guiding light of German politics.” He writes: “The only way this is possible is by saving the liberal social order for the future.” So that the Islamic problem does not develop into a threat, he suggests that “unity in both German politics and society is necessary.”
Alternative for Germany on the rise
AfD’s membership has continued to grow. If in October 2014, its ranks were made up of 19,885 people , then in May 2016, it was already 23,400. According to surveys conducted by six rating agencies, in spring 2016, the level of AfD’s support among voters peaked and ranged from 12% to 15%. Moreover, Alternative for Germany has not only surpassed that of the Free Democratic Party, but also the Left and has come close to matching the Greens. On March 3rd, 2016, elections were held in three federal states – Baden-Wurttemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate, and Sachsen-Anhalt – in which AfG scored 15.1%, 12.6%, and 24.6% of the vote respectively.
This is not to say that AfD has accumulated all of the vote of the “right of center” spectrum, however. In the Sachsen-Anhalt elections, for example, right-wing radical organizations such as the Right also participated, gaining .2% of the vote while the National Democratic Party of Germany was supported by 1.9% of voters. Compared to previous elections, the National Democrats’ loss amounted to 2.7%. Thus, the most consistent right-wing radicals who adhere to traditional political views are still not exclusively within the AfD’s support sphere. The young party has, however, been afforded formidable support from the PEGIDA movement, many of whom, in turn, had voted for the CDU, FDP, and even Left before.
In the run up to the next elections to the Bundestag, rapprochement with PEGIDA might be a decisive step for AfD to become the “people’s party” and an influential player on the German political field.
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 Bericht: Jeder zehnte AfD-ler war fruher bei der CDUhttp://www.focus.de/politik/deutschland/abwanderung-aus-den-etablierten-parteien-bericht-jeder-zehnte-afd-ler-war-frueher-bei-der-cdu_id_5572992.html [Электронный ресурс] (дата обращения:10.07.2016).
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 Wahl des 7. Landtages von Sachsen-Anhalt am 13. Marz 2016[Электронный ресурс]https://www.statistik.sachsen-anhalt.de/wahlen/lt16/index.html(дата обращения:8.07.2016).
 Flüchtlingskrise: Das Dilemma der Linken[Электронный ресурс] .URL: http://www.spiegel.de/politik/deutschland/fluechtlingskrise-das-dilemma-der-linken-a-1062306 html (дата обращения:12.07.2016).
Vyacheslav Shcherbakov is a candidate of historical sciences and professor at the Institute of History and International Relations at Russia’s Southern Federal University in Rostov-on-Don. He is a specialist in German politics, particularly right-wing movements.