March 9, 2018 - 12:38 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - The Alternative for Germany (AfD) politician André Poggenburg announced his resignation on Thursday, March 8, following criticism from his own party about hostile comments he made towards Germans of Turkish origin, The Local reports.
Poggenburg, 42, is the leader of the AfD in the formerly communist eastern region of Saxony-Anhalt as well as chief of the anti-immigration party's state parliamentary group.
He will leave both posts on March 31st because of "pressure from the parliamentary group and party", the Saxony-Anhalt state chapter of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party said in a statement.
During an inflammatory speech in February, he insulted Germans of Turkish origin, calling them "camel drivers". He added that those with double German and Turkish citizenship are “fatherless vermin.”
The comments were in response to a question from a community organization, who asked about plans in Berlin to create a new "homeland" ministry.
He said Germany needed no advice on its culture and history from Turks who he said bore responsibility "for their own genocide", the mass killings of Armenians in the World War I-era.
"Are they crazy?" he told several hundred mostly-male AfD supporters in Nentmannsdorf, a village near Dresden.
"These camel drivers should go back to where they belong, far beyond the Bosphorus, to their mud huts and multiple wives."
Poggenburg counts among the most right-leaning members of the AfD.
In a leak last year of a WhatsApp group chat of AfD members and supporters, Poggenburg was seen texting: "Germany for the Germans" -- a slogan often used by neo-Nazis.
Defending the comment, Poggenburg then also issued a tweet saying: "Why should that put me under pressure? Of course Germany should belong to the Germans."
When announcing his resignation, Poggenburg stated that the comments had built up "an enormous media pressure". While he could take on the growing pressure himself, he added that he wanted to “spare members, faction colleagues and party friends."
Poggenburg had taken over the party presidency in 2014 and led the faction since it moved into the Magdeburg state parliament in the spring of 2016.
Nationwide the AfD party garnered almost 13 percent of the vote in September's election, as it capitalised on anger against Chancellor Angela Merkel's refugee policy that let in more than one million asylum seekers since 2015.