May 18, 2018 / 4:38 PM / 7 months ago

Germany's AfD confirms politicians exchanged racist, anti-Semitic messages in group chat

BERLIN (Reuters) - Several local politicians from Germany’s far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) exchanged racist, anti-Semitic and potentially criminal messages in a private group chat, according to an internal party report, a party spokesman confirmed on Friday.

At least nine politicians in the state of Saxony, an AfD stronghold, were members of the group chat that existed from December to March, according to local media, which first reported the incident.

The WhatsApp group chat, called “AfD Fun”, was discontinued after members reported it in March. Following the incident, the party disciplined chat members and commissioned an internal report about the hardline content of the messages.

The 93-page report showed that members exchanged messages and pictures containing Nazi imagery, jokes about murdering migrants and foreigners, and incitement to violence, for example against German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper and the NDR and WDR broadcasters reported.

They said the report concluded that the messages had “crossed the line of criminal content.”

“This behavior is grossly damaging for our party and has nothing to do with the values of the Alternative for Germany”, the party’s secretary general Jan Zwerg said in a statement.

The AfD said it was considering expelling some chat members.

The anti-immigrant party was voted into the German lower house of parliament for the first time in September national elections and is the largest opposition party.

Reporting by Laura Dubois; editing by Andrea Shalal

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