AfD's Alexander Gauland slammed over 'racist' remark aimed at minister
Leading AfD politician Alexander Gauland has landed in hot water again after saying a German minister should be "disposed of" in Turkey. The remark sparked further outcry when he refused to apologize.
No stranger to controversial comments, Alexander Gauland, deputy leader of the populist Alternative for Germany (AfD), made headlines again for remarks that have been labeled "racist" and "dehumanizing" by his fellow German politicians.
At a campaign rally Sunday in the central German town of Eichsfeld in the state of Thuringia, Gauland went after the German government's commissioner for integration, Aydan Özoguz.
Özoguz, who has Turkish roots, wrote in an article for the newspaper Tagesspeigel that "a specifically German culture is, beyond the language, simply not identifiable."
Gauland, who stands a good chance of being elected to parliament in Germany's upcoming elections, told the audience: "That's what a German-Turk says. Invite her to Eichsfeld and tell her then what specifically German culture is."
Co-chairman Alexander Gauland said the German national soccer team's defender Jerome Boateng might be appreciated for his performance on the pitch - but people would not want "someone like Boateng as a neighbor." He also argued Germany should close its borders and said of an image showing a drowned refugee child: "We can't be blackmailed by children's eyes."
Alice Weidel generally plays the role of "voice of reason" for the far-right populists, but she, too, is hardly immune to verbal miscues. Welt newspaper, for instance, published a 2013 memo allegedly from Weidel in which she called German politicians "pigs" and "puppets of the victorious powers in World War II. Weidel initially claimed the mail was fake, but now admits its authenticity.
German border police should shoot at refugees entering the country illegally, the former co-chair of the AfD told a regional newspaper in 2016. Officers must "use firearms if necessary" to "prevent illegal border crossings." Communist East German leader Erich Honecker was the last German politician who condoned shooting at the border.
The head of the AfD in the state of Thuringia made headlines for referring to Berlin's Holocaust memorial as a "monument of shame" and calling on the country to stop atoning for its Nazi past. The comments came just as Germany enters an important election year - leading AfD members moved to expel Höcke for his remarks.
Beatrix von Storch
Initially, the AfD campaigned against the euro and bailouts - but that quickly turned into anti-immigrant rhetoric. "People who won't accept STOP at our borders are attackers," the European lawmaker said. "And we have to defend ourselves against attackers."
Pretzell, former chairman of the AfD in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia and husband to Frauke Petry, wrote "These are Merkel's dead," shortly after news broke of the deadly attack on the Berlin Christmas market in December 2016.
The member of parliament in Germany's eastern state of Saxony made waves in early 2016 with an inquiry into how far the state covers the cost of sterilizing unaccompanied refugee minors. Thousands of unaccompanied minors have sought asylum in Germany, according to the Federal Association for Unaccompanied Minor Refugees (BumF) - the vast majority of them young men.
Poggenburg, head of the AfD in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt, has also raised eyebrows with extreme remarks. In February 2017, he urged other lawmakers in the state parliament to join measures against the extreme left-wing in order to "get rid of, once and for all, this rank growth on the German racial corpus" - the latter term clearly derived from Nazi terminology.
Alexander Gauland - again ...
During a campaign speech in Eichsfeld in August 2017, AfD election co-candidate Alexander Gauland said that Social Democrat parliamentarian Aydan Özoguz should be "disposed of" back to Anatolia. The German term, "entsorgen," raised obvious parallels to the imprisonment and killings of Jews and prisoners of war under the Nazis.
... and again
Gauland was roundly criticized for a speech he made to the AfD's youth wing in June 2018. Acknowledging Germany's responsibility for the crimes of the Nazi era, he went on to say Germany had a "glorious history and one that lasted a lot longer than those damned 12 years. Hitler and the Nazis are just a speck of bird shit in over 1,000 years of successful German history."
Politicians decry 'racist' comment
Gauland's comment, which was first reported by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, drew
censure from politicians across the German political spectrum.
Merkel's Social Democrat (SPD) opponent Martin Schulz firmly denounced Gauland's statement, writing on Twitter: "Gauland's railing against Ozoguz is abhorrent. We must do everything to ensure that such racists don't enter the Bundestag!"
Gauland not sorry
Although Gauland told news agency DPA that he would reconsider his word choice in the future, he didn't see anything to apologize for.
"I said something and I stand by the content," he said. However, he said he wouldn't use the metaphor in the future since "sensible people" advised against it.
Other political panelists on the show begged to differ.
"This language is disgusting and dehumanizing," said senior CDU MP Norbert Röttgen during the show.
With Germany's general election just weeks away, it remains to be seen what effect Gauland's comments will have on voters. The AfD is looking to enter German parliament for the first time and is posed to break the 5 percent minimum required to enter the Bundestag.