Far-right politician announces conversion to Islam

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A leading politician for the Alternative for Germany (AfD), Arthur Wagner, who known for its anti-Muslim rhetoric has quit his leadership role after converting to Islam, the party confirmed on Thursday.

Arthur Wagner said he had resigned his party membership after deciding to become a Muslim. It appears he had only recently converted to Islam, and he resigned from his position on January 11 for "private reasons".

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.

Berlin daily Tagesspiegel reported Wednesday that Wagner, who joined AfD shortly after it was founded in 2013, has in the past been active in a group assisting refugees.

Suddenly far-right officials stress in public religion is very much a "private matter".

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His previous attitudes about Muslims is likely the reason why it was such a shock to his former party members to hear about his conversion to Islam.

According to the AfD, it states that "Islam does not belong to Germany" and "Islamic culture do not blend well in Germany".

The party has also sought to ban the construction of mosques in Germany.

Mr Wagner declined to comment on his conversion. "We believe in religious freedom as stated in the constitution", he also added, talking to the Berliner Zeitung. "We have taken note of this development not without surprise", wrote Andreas Kalbitz, the AfD's regional head, before echoing previous remarks it was up to Wagner to make this decision.

In the September 2017 elections, the AfD managed to obtain 12.6 percent of the vote, placing third after the Christian Democrats (CDU)/Christian Social Union (CSU) coalition and the Social Democratic Party (SPD). "The AfD (views Islam) as a great threat to our state, our society and our values, due to its spreading and the steadily growing number of Muslims", it reads.