German politician under fire for converting to Islam


German politician under fire for converting to Islam

When German man Arthur Wagner announced on Facebook he had converted to Islam and was now called Ahmad, he was bombarded with abuse. “Someone wrote, I should leave Germany immediately before I started building bombs,” said Mr Wagner from Potsdam, near Berlin, to the Bild tabloid.

The crucial detail: until recently Mr Wagner was a board member of the far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) in the eastern state of Brandenburg.

The AfD was founded in 2013 as an anti-bailout party but has boosted its support since the refugee crisis with warnings of an “Islamization” of Germany. AfD head in Brandenburg Andreas Kalbitz, for instance, insists that “Islam does not belong to Germany”. And, if he has his way, Arthur “Ahmad” Wagner will soon no longer belong to the AfD.

Mr Wagner’s interest in Islam arose from personal contacts with Muslims in Germany, and during a recent trip to Russia. “My experience of Muslims has been that they are open and honest people,” said Mr Wagner, who grew up in the Soviet Union.

His party colleagues say they are shocked and disappointed by the news.

“I learned he was a Muslim from the newspaper,” Kai Berger, a local AfD official, told Bild. “Many members now expect him to leave the AfD, we cannot throw him out.” Even if he isn’t welcome, Ahmad Wagner says he is determined to stay in his party. For now, Mr Wagner sees no contradiction between his political and religious beliefs. “I will study Islam and build bridges between Germans and Muslims,” said the 48 year-old German Muslim.

Source: The Irish Times

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