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AfD to fight for headscarf ban and mass deportations in election

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AfD to fight for headscarf ban and mass deportations in election
File photo: DPA.
16:53 CET+01:00
The Alternative for Germany (AfD) party has released a draft campaign programme, outlining plans to ban all headscarves in public offices and schools.

The proposed programme was presented on Thursday in Berlin, as the upstart far-right party seeks to win its first seats in the Bundestag (German parliament) in September’s election.

The AfD started in 2013 as a eurosceptic party, opposed to the single currency, but has shifted further to the right, gaining success in state parliaments over the past year through its anti-immigrant rhetoric amid the influx of refugees.

Its proposed campaign programme demands stringent restrictions on Muslims and their religious freedoms, including a general headscarf ban for the public sector that would apply to teachers and students alike.

“The AfD will not allow Germany to lose its cultural features due to a false understanding of tolerance,” the programme states.

Whether Muslim women should be able to wear headscarves to work has been an ongoing debate in Germany, with opponents citing religious neutrality policies as grounds for forbidding them. But there have been some victories for Muslim women in recent years, most notably a 2015 Constitutional Court ruling that struck down absolute bans on teachers wearing the Islamic garment.

The paper furthermore calls for the country to ban Islamic theology professorships at German universities, saying these should be replaced by “faith neutral” Islamic studies. Public schools should also abolish the teaching of Islam in religion classes at state-funded schools, argues the paper.

'Negative immigration'

The AfD election platform also includes a demand that Germany maintain “negative immigration” of 200,000 people - meaning 200,000 more people would leave the country than the number of those who arrive.

But when asked, the party could not specify how exactly this would be implemented. The AfD also want to end the practice of refugees’ families being able to join them in Germany.

The party further asserted that a Bundestag investigative committee should hold accountable those who are responsible for the “tolerated mass immigration starting in September 2015”.

Chair of the AfD’s programme commission, Albrecht Glaser, said that Germany's borders should “immediately be closed to end the wild, mass immigration”.

“We demand the expatriation of criminal migrants,” added party leader Frauke Petry, explaining that this should also include those who are stateless.

The AfD also proposes a new approach to retirement: people should receive their pensions after a certain number of years working, rather than after a certain age.

A policy proposal that is a bit left of centre is that no company should be allowed to have more than 15 percent of its staff on limited temporary work contracts.

And taking a page out of the book of US President Donald Trump - whom the AfD like to praise - the party took on a tone quite sceptical of climate change, releasing a survey that showed 85 percent of their supporters don’t believe the phenomenon is proven. Therefore the AfD also said it would end both Germany’s climate protection plan, and its cooperation with the Paris climate agreement.

'Secret oligrachy' running Germany

As the AfD attempts to steal success from Germany's well-established parties - Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU and its current coalition partner the SPD - the programme promotes the idea that within German politics there are sinister powers at work.

“The secret superiors in Germany are a small, powerful political oligarchy, that has trained itself within established parties,” the programme states.

The draft claims that this supposed oligarchy has its hands on the levers of state power, political development and of media influence on the population.

A final election programme is to be adopted at a party meeting in April in Cologne.

Dwindling in the polls
 
While surveys show the AfD clearly making it past the 5 percent threshold to gain seats in the Bundestag, recent polls also show that it has lost some of its steam.
 
A survey by Stern magazine, RTL and research group Forsa on Wednesday showed the party is lingering below double digits at 8 percent, compared to 9 percent the week before. This put the AfD at a tie with the Green party to be the third largest party.
 
Another poll this week by Insa research group showed the AfD at 11 percent, down from 12 percent the month before.

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