Right-wing German party divided over lawmaker’s anti-Semitic writings

Marcy Oster

BERLIN (JTA) — Germany’s right-populist, anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany party has initiated procedures to expel a legislator for anti-Semitic writings.

More than the fate of politician Wolfgang Gedeon is at stake, however. The fray over his past writings on the Holocaust and Jews has revealed a deep split in the party, pitting those who abhor him, led by the party’s federal spokesperson Jörg Meuthen, against those who have appeared to protect him, led by party co-leader, Frauke Petry. For now, the two apparently have agreed to work together.

Meuthen, who also heads the party’s 23-member faction in the Baden-Württemberg state parliament – to which Gedeon also was elected last March, launched the process of removing Gedeon from the party on Tuesday evening, after a group of breakaway party members voted to do so, according to news reports.

Meuthen and 12 other members of the faction had formed a new faction called Alternative für Baden-Württemberg in protest against fellow AfD members who sided with Gedeon. Gedeon himself had withdrawn from the party faction but it was too late to avoid splitting the faction, observers have said.

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Recent polls show the party has lost popularity over the brouhaha.

The tremors within the AfD were caused by the discovery that Gedeon had referred to the Holocaust as a “civil religion of the west,” called the Holocaust memorial in Berlin “a memorial to certain crimes,” and referred to Holocaust deniers as “dissidents” in writings over recent years. These are only a few of the controversial statements that have landed him and the party in hot water.

Now, Meuthen has sent an open letter to members of the AfD party, explaining his decision to push for Gedeon’s expulsion from the party. Opposition mainstream parties, the Social Democratic Party or SPD, and the Christian Democratic Union or CDU, have renewed calls for the AfD party to be put under surveillance by the German intelligence services over Gedeon’s writings, which they deem to be anti-Semitic.

In his letter, which reportedly was signed by all members of his break-away faction, Meuthen said that it was out of the question for him and his supporters to work with those who had backed Gedeon.

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