This week, lawmakers of the nationalist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party visited Syria to meet with officials close to President Bashar Assad to discuss how to get Syrian refugees to return home.
"Met open and friendly people everywhere who were very happy about our visit. Everything is totally relaxed here,” said Christian Blex, one of the AfD lawmakers who made the trip.
Several AfD party members posted photos from their travels where they met with officials, including the Grand Mufti Ahmad Badreddine Hassoun.
However, the party has received backlash, especially from political rivals, regarding the trip.
"The Syrian regime demonstrates every day how inhumanely it treats its own population. Idlib, Aleppo, East Ghouta — those are all names known around the world for the suffering of innocent civilians, a suffering that President Assad orders or accepts,” said Steffen Seibert, the head of the German governmental press. "(Assad's) war against his own population triggered a refugee movement of historic proportions. That's why anyone who courts this regime disqualifies themselves."
The AfD was founded about five years ago.
It was the first anti-euro party to win seats in the German regional parliament. Following Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open door policy that let 1 million migrants in the country in 2015, the anti-immigration party has gain traction in the last few years.
But as Germany continues to struggle to manage the tremendous numbers of refugees now in the country, the party’s main focus has pivoted from stopping the mass immigration, to sending the refugees home.
Other parties have gone as far to call the AfD political extremists and apparently this means that the German interior ministry could put the party under surveillance.
"Such a decision needs to be well-prepared,” said Annegret Korff, a spokeswoman for Germany's interior ministry about deploying domestic intelligence agencies to spy on the AfD.
Author’s note: This just proves that the current liberal government of Germany isn’t beneath using government resources to spy on its political rival. But, isn’t this a totalitarian move? If this is deemed legal and is sanctioned and executed, who can say that Germany is still a democracy? This is a form of repression of political foes, which is a tactic used in by all dictatorships. The AfD party has gained substantial support in Germany. Whether you like them or not, they have the right to compete politically (or at least they would in the U.S.) It’s terrifying that in Germany you can label competing parties as extremists and then be able to spy on them.