Germany′s AfD party in hot water for nationalistic, anti-media WhatsApp chat

23.06.2017

Some members of Germany's right-wing Alternative for Germany party were in hot water on Wednesday after instant message transcripts came to light filled with nationalistic messages and a plan to clamp down on the media.

The leaked transcript from a WhatsApp chat group was a topic of debate during a legislative session in the eastern German state of Saxony-Anhalt.

At one point in the chat, Andre Poggenburg, a state AfD party leader, uses the phrase "Deutschland den Deutschen" (Germany for the Germans), an expression generally associated with the extreme-right National Democratic Party.

At another point, an AfD member who is also reportedly a federal police officer, talks about the need for strict controls on the media should the AfD ever take power.

"We have to undercut the media, otherwise it will be hard. Along with taking power, we have to set up a committee to review all journalists and editors and sift through them. Bosses have to be fired. Media that is against the people has to be forbidden."

The comments prompted another member of the chat group to write: "This is practically public, so be more careful about the way you act!"

Wulf Gallert, the vice president of the Saxony-Anhalt legislature and a member of the hard-left Die Linke (The Left) party, said the fact that such comments were made so openly in a chat room with 200 members says a lot about the AfD's respect for the law.

Poggenburg said he stood by his "Deutschland den Deutschen" comment, saying there was nothing problematic about it.

"Obviously a country should 'belong' to those people who have lived there a long time, who have spent decades or even generations putting down roots there and become members of society."

But other AfD members from other parts of Germany have got in trouble for uttering the same statement. In the north-eastern state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, state legislator Ralph Weber received a warning because saying "Deutschland den Deutschen" damaged the party's reputation.

Party members said the phrase was too similar to language used by the NPD.

Also on Wednesday, members of the local Social Democratic party sent a defamation complaint to police about a different statement by Poggenburg, this time on Twitter.

Noting that relatively few Muslims had turned out for a weekend peace demonstration in Cologne, Poggenburg wrote that "Islam simply stands for terrorism, violence, etc. Why should Muslims demonstrate against that?"    (dpa)

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