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AfD politician steps down after his party criticizes him for racist comments

The controversial Alternative for Germany (AfD) politician André Poggenburg announced his resignation on Thursday, following criticism from his own party about hostile comments he made towards Germans of Turkish origin.

AfD politician steps down after his party criticizes him for racist comments
Poggenburg is one of AfD's most right-wing members. Photo: DPA

Poggenburg, 42, is the leader of the AfD in the formerly communist eastern region of Saxony-Anhalt as well as chief of the anti-immigration party's state parliamentary group.

He will leave both posts on March 31st because of “pressure from the parliamentary group and party”, the Saxony-Anhalt state chapter of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party said in a statement.

During an inflammatory speech in February, he insulted Germans of Turkish origin, calling them “camel drivers”. He added that those with double German and Turkish citizenship are “fatherless vermin.”

The comments were in response to a question from a community organization, who asked about plans in Berlin to create a new “homeland” ministry.

He said Germany needed no advice on its culture and history from Turks who he said bore responsibility “for their own genocide”, the mass killings of Armenians in the World War I-era.

“Are they crazy?” he told several hundred mostly-male AfD supporters in Nentmannsdorf, a village near Dresden.

“These camel drivers should go back to where they belong, far beyond the Bosphorus, to their mud huts and multiple wives.”

Poggenburg counts among the most right-leaning members of the AfD.

In a leak last year of a WhatsApp group chat of AfD members and supporters, Poggenburg was seen texting: “Germany for the Germans” — a slogan often used by neo-Nazis.

Defending the comment, Poggenburg then also issued a tweet saying: “Why should that put me under pressure? Of course Germany should belong to the Germans.”

When announcing his resignation, Poggenburg stated that the comments had built up “an enormous media pressure”. While he could take on the growing pressure himself, he added that he wanted to  “spare members, faction colleagues and party friends.”

Poggenburg had taken over the party presidency in 2014 and led the faction since it moved into the Magdeburg state parliament in the spring of 2016.

Nationwide the AfD party garnered almost 13 percent of the vote in September's election, as it capitalised on anger against Chancellor Angela Merkel's refugee policy that let in more than one million asylum seekers since 2015.

POLITICS

Ex-chancellor Schröder sues German Bundestag for removing perks

Former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has sued the German parliament for removing some of his official post-retirement perks over his links to Russian energy giants, his lawyer said Friday.

Ex-chancellor Schröder sues German Bundestag for removing perks

Schröder, 78, has come under heavy criticism for his proximity to Russian President Vladimir Putin and involvement with state-backed energy companies.

The decision to suspend Schröder’s taxpayer-funded office and staff in May was “contrary to the rule of law”, Michael Nagel, told public broadcaster NDR.

Schröder “heard of everything through the media”, Nagel said, noting that the Social Democrat had asked for a hearing before the budget committee responsible but was not given the chance to express himself.

READ ALSO: Germany strips Schröder of official perks over Russia ties

Schröder’s lawyers filed the complaint with an administrative Berlin court, a spokesman for the court confirmed.

In its decision to strip him of the perks, the committee concluded that Schröder, who served as chancellor from 1998 to 2005, “no longer upholds the continuing obligations of his office”.

Most of Schröder’s office staff had already quit before the final ruling was made.

Despite resigning from the board of Russian oil company Rosneft and turning down a post on the supervisory board of gas giant Gazprom in May, Schröder has maintained close ties with the Kremlin.

The former chancellor met Putin in July, after which he said Moscow was ready for a “negotiated solution” to the war in Ukraine — comments branded as “disgusting” by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Last week, the Social Democrats concluded that Schröder would be allowed to remain a member after he was found not have breached party rules over his ties to the Russian President.

Schröder’s stance on the war and solo diplomacy has made him an embarrassment to the SPD, which is also the party of current Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

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