Civil society and minorities see the strengthened AfD as a particular threat. However, they will not be intimidated.
Such election results should never be accepted as "normal," also says Charlotte Knobloch Photo: dpa
Mohammed Suleman Malik is not surprised by the AfD’s result in Thuringia. "I saw it coming, we saw it coming: 23 percent voted for a fascist," says Malik, spokesman for the Muslim Ahmadiyya community in Thuringia. "But the majority voted for anti-fascists. That gives us hope."
Malik doesn’t want to be intimidated. There is reason to do so, he says: "Of course, as Muslims, we are targets of this hatred." Malik tells of threats on Facebook. He should be glad that he is still alive, should go back to his country.
Malik is not alone – other representatives of civil society are also concerned after the AfD’s election success. Malik’s community is already struggling with concrete consequences. The Muslim reports on the mosque that the Ahmadiyya is building in an industrial area of Erfurt – and whose completion has been delayed by months. "Several construction companies have canceled on us. They fear attacks on their people or machines." Others wanted "nothing to do with a mosque construction." First, Der Spiegel had reported.
There were incendiary speeches against the mosque construction, including from Thuringia’s AfD leader Bjorn Hocke, there were protest marches of hooded people, pig carcasses and huge wooden crosses erected next to the construction site. "There is a direct line from these attacks to the AfD, everyone knows that," Malik says. "For us as a civil society and for the democratic parties, this means above all: we have to show even more attitude."
He was displaced as a child, and in Erfurt he built a home for himself, Malik says. "I won’t let anyone take that away from me." Malik regularly stands in pedestrian zones, wearing a T-shirt that says "We are all Germany" and offering to explain Islam to people. He is also the deputy district mayor in Erfurt as a nonpartisan.
Mohammed Suleman Malik, Ahmadiyya community.
"There is a line from the attacks on us to the AfD."
Malik now expects democratic parties and authorities to be more consistent in enforcing the rule of law. "Whether it’s Christchurch or Halle, we’ve seen that verbal attacks are just the beginning."
Other civil society actors* also have strong words. "Those who vote AfD are choosing the path to an anti-democratic Germany," says Josef Schuster, president of the Central Council of Jews. Such election results should never be accepted as "normal," also says Charlotte Knobloch, former president of the Central Council and chairwoman of the Jewish Community in Munich. "The minority of anti-democrats has long been a danger to democracy."
Ayman Qasarwa, managing director of the umbrella organization of migrant organizations, in eastern Germany warns, "The entire work of migrant organizations is in acute danger due to the strengthening of the AfD." This must now be strengthened both politically and financially.
The Mobile Counseling Service in Thuringia also states that the election results show that in Thuringia "a strong commitment against volkisch and inhuman ideologies" continues to be important. "We expect the future governing parties to strengthen above all those who stand firmly for a democratic civil society and fight for our free democratic society," said board member Sandro Witt. "The election result is a warning that must be taken seriously."