Muslim leaders in Germany criticized Alternative for Germany‘s claim that Islam was contrary to the constitution and compared the anti-immigration party‘s stance to Adolf Hitler‘s rule of the country.
Buoyed by successes in three key state elections last month, the AfD called at the weekend for banning minarets and burqas in the country, warning of the threat of "the Islamization of Germany".
But in an interview with state broadcaster NDR, the chairman of the Central Council of Muslims, Aiman Mazyek, said that for "the first time since Hitler‘s Germany there is a party that again seeks to discredit an entire religious community and threatens its existence."
Chancellor Angela Merkel‘s conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) and its Bavarian-based Christian Social Union (CSU) allies led the attack on the AfD from Germany‘s mainstream political parties.
"The AfD is becoming more and more radical," Franz Josef Jung, the CDU-CSU parliamentary group spokesman for churches and religious communities, told the daily Die Welt.
The anti-Islamic statements from the AfD were "highly dangerous" and aimed at dividing the nation, Carsten Sieling, the Social Democratic mayor of the northern German city of Bremen, told dpa.
Sieling currently heads the council representing the premiers of Germany‘s 16 states.
In weekend interviews, AfD deputy leader Beatrix von Storch and the party‘s leader in the eastern German state of Brandenburg, Alexander Gauland, warned about what they saw as the dangers of Islam.
"Islam is in itself a political ideology which is not compatible with the constitution," von Storch told the Sunday edition of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
"We are in favour of banning minarets, on muezzins as well as full veils," said von Storch who is also a member of the European Parliament.
"Islam is not a religion like Catholic or Protestant Christianity, but instead is always intellectually associated with a takeover of the state," Gauland told the newspaper.
"That is why the Islamization of Germany is a danger," said Gauland, who described Islam a "a foreign body" in Germany.
However, Mazyek insisted: "This is not an anti-Islam course, (but) an anti-democratic course."