German party wants ban on burqas, says Islam 'not part of Germany'

Beatrix von Storch, deputy leader of the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.Reuters

A German anti-immigration party that wants to ban minarets and burqas has said Islam is incompatible with the country's constitution.

Deputy leader of Alternative for Germany (AfD), Beatrix von Storch, told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung newspaper on Sunday that: "Many Muslims are part of Germany, but Islam is not part of Germany".

"Islam is in itself a political ideology that is not compatible with the constitution," she added.

"We are in favour of a ban on minarets, on muezzins and a ban on full veils".

Another of the AfD's deputy leaders, Alexander Gauland, said: "Islam is not a religion like Catholic or Protestant Christianity, but rather intellectually always associated with the takeover of the state. That is why the Islamisation of Germany is a danger."

The AfD punished Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats in three regional elections last month, profiting from popular angst about how Germany can cope with an influx of migrants, over a million of whom arrived last year.

Merkel's conservatives have also called for an effective ban on the burqa, saying the full body covering worn by some Muslim women should not be worn in public. But they have not said Islam is incompatible with Germany's constitution.

The AfD's rise, which has coincided with strong gains by other European anti-immigrant parties including the National Front in France, has punctured the centrist consensus around which the mainstream parties have formed alliances in Germany.

Last month, the party grabbed 24 per cent of the vote in the state of Saxony-Anhalt, surpassing even the Social Democrats (SPD), Merkel's coalition partner in Berlin. The AfD founded in 2013, also performed strongly in two other states.

The party's rise has been controversial. Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, a Social Democrat, has said Germany's far-right, led by the AfD party, is using language similar to that of Hitler's Nazis.

Such accusations have not swayed the party from its anti-immigration course.

Additional reporting by Reuters.