In an exclusive interview, the deputy chairwoman of Germany’s populist, Eurosceptic party, Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), spoke with Breitbart News about immigration, Islam, and America.
Germany’s young populist party, Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), made enormous gains in last Sunday’s federal elections, moving from holding no seats in the national parliament to as many as 94 seats in the new Bundestag. A growing disillusion with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s handling of Germany’s migrant crisis as well as with the liberal Social Democratic Party (SPD) helped fuel a significant shift toward the AfD.
Beatrix von Storch became a member of the European Parliament for AfD in 2014 and is one of the public faces of the party. After leaving the European Conservatives and Reformists, she joined the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy group led by Nigel Farage, the former leader of UKIP.
The mainstream media label the AfD as a “far right” party. Is that an accurate description?
Von Storch: It is ironic, but many of the policies, positions, and values currently espoused by the AfD used to be supported by Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU/CSU). In reality, it is not the AfD that is “far right” but rather Merkel who shifted the CDU/CSU to the left.
Prior to Merkel, the CDU/CSU did not consider traditional family values and patriotism to be sins. At the time, they were against mass migration, gay marriage, and dual citizenship. It is Merkel who adopted the policies of the left such as the “energy transition” and the opening of our borders.
Merkel ousted conservatives, Christians and libertarians from the CDU/CSU and made them politically homeless. They tried to find a new home in the FDP in 2009, but the FDP also failed to deliver. The AfD filled that gap and gave conservatives, Christians, and libertarians the alternative political home they were looking for. In that regard, we bear some similarity to the Republican Party in the United States, in that the AfD brings together several factions, i.e. Christians, conservatives, and libertarians.
When you look at America, what do you see?
Von Storch: During my youth, I had the opportunity of working as an intern in the congressional office of a Democrat in Washington, D.C. This experience taught me a lot about the political system of the United States. I was particularly impressed by the conservative movement, which would later serve as a role model for the conservative grassroots movement I founded in Germany. That movement is pro-Christian values, pro-tax reform, pro-balanced budgets, pro-direct democracy, as well as being anti-Euro.
It is also worth noting that the AfD was the only party in Germany to welcome the successful election campaign of President Trump.
What are the values and convictions that drive and shape your personal political aspirations?
Von Storch: My morals come from my Christian faith. I am also a firm believer in the rule of law which provides society with the institutional framework in which free markets operate. Great thinkers such as economist Friedrich Hayek and President Ronald Reagan are an inspiration and their legacy is still relevant. Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom warned of the “danger of tyranny that inevitably results from government control of economic decision-making through central planning,” a prediction that has proved completely accurate.
I also believe in the value of direct democracy. Switzerland, for example, implements direct democracy in order to grant their citizens a say on important issues, which gives them a real sense of self-government. We should do this too. When it comes to the European Union (EU), I am very much in favor of trade—whether it be goods, services, labour or capital. But this does not require a European super-state, but only peaceful economic cooperation among independent sovereign nations.
What is the position of the AfD regarding Islam? Do accusations of “Islamophobia” have any merit?
Von Storch: A person’s relationship with God is a private matter that should be left between them and God in a modern, secular, democratic nation-state. Muslims who accept and embrace our liberal secular society are not the problem. It is political Islam that we take issue with. That is, Muslims who wish to force their religion, laws, and values on Germany. We do not want sharia law or separate Islamist political institutions in our country.
In reality, however, Islamic organizations in Germany have refused to distance themselves from sharia law. There have been Islamist terror attacks in Würzburg, Ansbach, Berlin, and Hamburg and yet just a few hundred Muslims participated in the anti-terror demonstrations in Cologne. In Germany, studies have shown that almost 40 percent of the Muslim population in Western Europe supports extremist views. In numerous mosques, one hears sermons promoting jihad and the primacy of sharia law. These beliefs go against our constitution, which is the supreme law in Germany.
It is unfair as well as fundamentally untrue to label a realistic political approach to Islam as “Islamophobia.” The left loves to substitute labels and insults for rational argument, but in the case of Islam, reason and honest debate are what is needed—not cheap slogans.
You have been sharply critical of Germany’s open-door immigration policy. What went wrong here and what have the consequences been?
Von Storch: When Merkel opened the borders, she brought more than one million illegal immigrants into Germany. Not only did she violate our laws and constitution but she placed the people of other European states at risk as well. The whole thing has been a catastrophe.
Some 90 percent of Germany’s illegal immigrants were young Muslim men who have shown little interest in integrating into German society. The crime rate has exploded, and sexual assaults, such as those in 2015 against women in Cologne, have become endemic. Moreover, the costs have been astronomical and the German taxpayer is now burdened with a bill of some 115 billion Euros.
Again, an honest look at the human and financial costs of these policies is essential rather than labelling opponents as xenophobic. Political leaders have the responsibility to look to the good of their own citizens before engaging in social experiments that may have disastrous consequences.
What of charges that AfD is anti-Semitic? Is there anything to that?
Von Storch: In reality, anti-Semitism is found principally in two places in modern German society: among the extreme left and in Germany’s Muslim population. The Judeo-Christian foundations of Western civilization gave birth to free markets, democracy, and the rule of law. This is why we believe in protecting our institutions, culture, values, and traditions. These institutions and values are rejected by both radical Islam and the extreme left.
I wholly and unequivocally support the right of the nation of Israel to secure its borders and preserve its cultural identity. Israel is both an inspiration and a role model for Germany as a free and democratic society that also believes in preserving and protecting its unique culture and traditions. Furthermore, I am in favour of close political, economic, and cultural cooperation with Israel.
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