Germany's Scholz criticises 'fanatics' in far-right deportation row

Far-right AfD party is soaring in the polls before regional and European elections this year

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. Reuters
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German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Thursday urged democrats to stand against far-right "fanatics" after reports emerged of Alternative for Germany [AfD] party members attending a meeting where expelling citizens of foreign ethnic backgrounds was discussed.

Two senior AfD politicians reportedly attended the November meeting in a villa near Berlin, where far-right influencer Martin Sellner outlined plans for the "remigration" of "unassimilated" people with German citizenship out of the country.

But the politicians said the plans were not party policy.

At the meeting, it was proposed that people be deported to a "model state in North Africa".

Critics of the plan drew comparisons with the Nazis' initial plan to deport European Jews to Madagascar, before they decided on systematic mass murder.

"We protect all, regardless of origin, skin colour or how uncomfortable someone is from fanatics with assimilation fantasies," Mr Scholz wrote on social media platform X on Thursday.

"Learning from history is about more than just lip service. Democrats must stand together."

The AfD is soaring in polls before regional and European elections this year, buoyed by severely constrained public finances and state services burdened by rising immigration.

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In response, all parties have pledged to crack down on illegal immigration, an approach that has only given more visibility to the AfD's policy.

Far from being embarrassed by the meeting, Maximilian Krah, the party's lead candidate for November's European Parliament elections, insisted on the party's pledge to deport illegal immigrants.

"In 2022, 2.7 million people migrated to Germany," he wrote on X.

"That is destroying our country. Only the AfD will stop this and arrange their return."

Updated: January 11, 2024, 7:39 PM