German party has Muslims in its sights

RIGHT-wing party AfD - Germany's third biggest political force - has adopted an anti-Muslim policy that includes a ban on the call to prayer.

The policy, decided at the party's congress in Stuttgart on the weekend, would also ban full-face veils for women, headscarves in schools and foreign financing for the construction and operation of mosques.

Established three years ago as a Eurosceptic movement that supported Germany's membership of the European Union but opposed the euro currency and bailouts for EU members, the Alternative for Germany moved to an anti-immigration platform last year after a party split.

It continues to gain strength following the entry of about 1.1 million asylum seekers into Germany last year under Chancellor Angela Merkel's policies.

The party is represented in eight of Germany's 16 state parliaments, and one poll has put its national support at 13%.

It attracted 4.7% of the vote at the 2013 federal election - just short of the 5% required to sit in the parliament.

The party has been at pains to distance itself from neo-Nazi movements, but hundreds of anti-fascist demonstrators rallied outside its weekend congress.

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