A member of an anti-Islam, far-right party in Germany has vowed to stay, despite being blasted by colleagues for becoming Muslim.
"I will always be faithful to AfD," Ahmad Wagner told reporters on Wednesday.
In another interview with German tabloid Bild, he called himself a “national conservative until I die.”
“I cannot be any different: there is a German spirit, a German soul and almost every AfD member has it,” he continued. “And if we don’t protect this German soul, this Germanness in the coming years, then it’s gone and, with it, Germany.”
The 48-year-old added that the “moral decline” of the Protestant church led to his conversion to Islam, pointing to its support for gay marriage and the participation of pastors at LGBT events.
“It's unacceptable," he told Bild.
Wagner previously held an official position within the Protestant church and belonged to the Christian Democrats before he joined AfD in 2015.
But after converting to Islam secretly in October, Wagner shocked his peers and party supporters last month when German media revealed that he was now Muslim and had dropped his name, Arthur, for Ahmad.
An AfD spokesperson later confirmed he had stepped down from the party’s national executive committee on January 11 “for private reasons”.
One of his local party colleagues said at the time that he was “very disappointed” about the news.
“Many members are waiting for him to quit the party,” Kai Berger said. “Unfortunately our statutes do not allow us to kick him out."
“He was so committed to the church here, to the parish council and everything. It just does not add up,” he added.
The AfD takes a firm stance against muslims. One of the four key principles they list on their website is "Islam does not belong to Germany", describing it as a “great danger” to society.
The party also enjoyed unprecedented success in national elections after campaigning on an anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, and anti-refugee platform. They became the third biggest political party in the country in September after winning 12.6% of the vote, and won seats in the Bundestag (German Parliament) for the first time.