The far-right party, Alternative for Germany (AfD), turns five this week. We talk with AfD speaker for Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf, Nicolaus Fest, and the Social Democratic Party (SPD)’s State Secretary in the Berlin Senate, Sawsan Chebli, about some of the issues that have been brought to the forefront of German politics.
Chebli describes her fears that anti-Muslim prejudice is moving to the mainstream of society, which she sees as partly due to the rise of the AfD, who she says capitalizes upon “a climate of fear.” She describes being on the receiving end of such heated rhetoric from the party as a Muslim woman within the Berlin Senate.
Fest, however, describes Islam as a “foe of our open society” and believes that “we should not allow them to preach their totalitarian ideology.” Fest believes that the AfD’s presence in the Bundestag will force other political parties to take his party’s concerns seriously: “We will not accept that there is no debate on Islam.”
KCRW Berlin Visiting Talent Amanda Pridmore is a journalist participating in the German American Fulbright Commission’s Young Professional Journalist Program.