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German Turks to sue far right party over 'camel drivers' slur

The Turkish Community in Germany organisation said it would be taking action under hate speech laws
Activists protest against a meeting between Merkel and Erdogan in front of the Chancellery in Berlin (AFP)

A Turkish group in Germany said on Thursday it was taking legal action against a lawmaker of the far-right AfD who defamed the ethnic minority as "camel drivers".

The latest controversy sparked by the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany party came as Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim was on Thursday due to meet Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on a visit meant to improve frayed relations.

The AfD - which entered Germany's parliament with almost 13 percent of the vote last September - often makes headlines with hate speech before usually backing away from the most incendiary comments.

President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said he condemned extremist politicians who make "ruthlessness and hatred...their strategy".

In the latest case, a lawmaker in the formerly communist eastern heartland of the party, Andre Poggenburg, on Wednesday attacked the Turkish group for its criticism of German plans for a new "homeland" ministry.

'These camel drivers should go back to where they belong, far beyond the Bosphorus, to their mud huts and multiple wives'

- Andre Poggenburg, AfD politician

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 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."

Gokay Sofuoglu, chairman of the Turkish Community in Germany organisation, which represents the three-million-strong minority, said it would take legal action under hate speech laws.

“It’s high time Germans realise the danger coming from the far-right,” Sofuoglu told AP.

Poggenburg, the AfD leader in the state of Saxony-Anhalt, later defended his comments as "pointed political satire".

He claimed the language was acceptable on Ash Wednesday when German politicians of all parties traditionally make gloves-off remarks about each other.

A regional politician of the left-wing Die Linke party, Rico Gebhardt, said the comments evoked those of Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels and were "inexcusable and a shame for a civilised country".

AfD national leader Joerg Meuthen said the racist comments "clearly went too far and should not have been made".

The controversy follows public anger against another AfD member, Peter Boehringer of Bavaria state, after reports of a foul-worded group email in which he had allegedly defamed Merkel as a prostitute.