In Depth

Far-right politician announces conversion to Islam

Arthur Wagner remains a member of AfD, a party which says Islam has ‘no place’ in Germany

An official of a far-right German political party renowned for its opposition to Islam has become a practising Muslim.

Arthur Wagner resigned from his position on the party's national executive committee two weeks ago for “personal reasons”, Deutsche Welle reports, but he has stepped down after converting to Islam.

The 48-year-old confirmed that he was now a Muslim but refused to elaborate on his surprising religious journey, telling a reporter from German newspaper Tagesspiegel: “That's my private business.”

Wagner was an AfD officer in the state of Brandenburg, responsible for the brief on religious communities. He has now resigned from that position, but remains a member of the party, despite its vocal opposition to “Islamification”.

A spokesman for the party, whose leaders have said that Islam “has no place” in German society, said the AfD had “no problem” with having a Muslim in its ranks and that Wagner’s resignation from his position had been voluntary.

Friends spoke of their surprise at Wagner’s damascene conversion, describing him as an active member of the church

“You don’t just decide to become a Muslim one day,” a local AfD leader told German daily Bild, The Daily Telegraph reports.

However, others noted that Wagner was previously a member of Angela Merkel’s mdoerate CDU party and that he had volunteered with church charities helping Chechens, including Muslims, seek asylum in Germany.

In 2012, a Dutch far-right politician made headlines for a similar surprise conversion. Arnoud van Doorn had been a member of the nationalist Dutch Freedom Party, led by anti-Islam firebrand Geert Wilders, but renounced the party to take up the Islamic faith.

Van Doorn said he felt “a responsibility to correct the mistakes that I've done in the past”. He now belongs to a minority Islamic party.

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