Germany's far-right AfD party apologises over 'racist' colouring booksComments
Far-right populists Alternative for Germany (AfD) has apologised after a regional faction released "racist colouring books" that appeared to show armed people under a Turkish flag.
German police are investigating the books, which were distributed at a rally of the North Rhine-Westphalian (NRW) group of the party.
In a statement, the AfD has apologised and said the commissioned books had "unfortunately been published prematurely".
"While the majority of the sketches remained within the scope of the project mandate, there are unfortunately also a few that are definitely not in order and therefore, of course, do not correspond to the group's opinion."
"We would like to make it clear that the entire project is ended immediately and without replacement."
'Sick and shocked'
Colouring drawings appeared to show armed characters wearing traditional Turkish headdresses and carrying Turkish flags.
Another showed women of colour, wearing bones in their hair, an apparent reference to historical colonial imagery.
The initials for the region "NRW", were also seen boiling in a pot, while fully-veiled women were also drawn with the message "we're going to clean it up".
The AfD says the books were distributed at a "citizen's dialogue" in the town of Krefeld last weekend.
One person who attended the rally told Euronews that the books made them "sick and shocked".
"These pictures remind us of the darkest chapter of German history and show us again that some of the AfD are clearly fascists".
Local police had confirmed on Twitter that they were aware of the books and were opening an investigation.
The regional parliament in North Rhine-Westphalian is reportedly investigating whether these albums were financed with regional funds.
'An organisational mistake'
In a statement to Euronews, the NRW faction for the AfD confirmed the books had been "confiscated".
"The fact that a few of these colouring books were distributed during an event is an organisational mistake".
AfD group leader Markus Wagner also apologised for his previous assessment of the books, saying they "should not have been published in this form".
Wagner had dismissed criticism of the books, arguing that "art should not only come from the left".
The AfD had also denounced "attacks on artistic and satirical freedoms" in response to these investigations.
But in a statement released on Wednesday, Wagner admitted that "the assessment I made yesterday was a mistake".
State spokesperson Rüdiger Lucassen added on Facebook that the content of the book was "not justifiable" and "incompatible" with AfD's political offering.
"The state board of the AfD North Rhine-Westphalia dissociates itself from the colouring book".
"The AfD stands like no other party for putting its finger in the wound and addressing social problems without political correctness," said Lucassen.
"Exaggerations are part of a lively political debate. This does not apply to the way in which they are presented in this colouring book."
"In particular, such questionable motives are completely unsuitable for a children's book."
"I welcome the decision of the AfD-Landtagsfraktion to "...terminate the entire project immediately and without replacement..."
'This book belongs in the brown bin'
Local SPD politician Thomas Kutschaty tweeted that the "racist book" would "incite children with its inhuman ideology".
"A note on waste recycling: this book belongs in the brown bin."
North Rhine-Westphalia is Germany's most populous state and is home to large communities of Turkish immigrants, according to a 2014 census.
The AfD, Germany's largest opposition party, has grown in popularity in recent years but has faced opposition for its views on immigration.
The party was at the centre of a political crisis in the eastern state of Thuringia earlier this month.
Liberal politician Thomas Kemmerich was elected as state premier with the help of the AfD but later stepped down after widespread outrage.