BERLIN – A member of the far-right, anti-Islam Alternative for Germany (AfD) who converted to Islam recently revealed that he made the decision due to the Protestant acceptance of gay marriage which he saw as a sign of decline.
“One of the reasons was the way the church has changed, which I don’t understand anymore,” Arthur Wagner, who was previously a devout Christian and member of his local Protestant church, told Bild newspaper.
“It’s their attitudes to the AfD, to gay marriage,” he said, The Telegraph reported.
He also said he was unhappy that Protestant pastors had taken part in a gay rights parade in Berlin. “With children there! That’s just not right,” he said.
Wagner, who now goes by the first name Ahmed, made headlines last week after German media reported his conversion to Islam.
The revelation mystified members of his AfD, which is staunchly opposed to Islam and holds that the religion has no place in Germany.
Though Wagner resigned his post as deputy leader of a local AfD chapter in his home state of Brandenburg, he said he wanted to remain in the party.
“I will always be faithful to AfD,” he told reporters, adding he wanted to work to build bridges between the party and German Muslims.
“I see my task as creating consensus between German Islam and conservative Germans.”
A German citizen of Russian heritage, Wagner said he decided to convert to Islam as long ago as 2015, during a visit to the Russian city of Ufa, home to a large Muslim Tatar community.
He converted last October but kept it secret at first. Over the past week, he has received threatening letters since his conversion became public.
“I get letters telling me to get out of Germany before I start making bombs,” he said.