BERLIN (AP) — A regional chapter of the far-right Alternative for Germany party apologized Wednesday for publishing a coloring book containing racist images.
The party’s caucus in the North Rhine-Westphalia legislature had initially defended the book Tuesday as a collection of “satirical sketches” and accused critics of attacking artistic freedom. Its leader in the state assembly, Markus Wagner, said the book was “a hit” and announced plans to print more.
Police later confirmed they were examining criminal complaints filed over the book, which included a drawing of women fleeing a swimming pool containing people with bones in their hair, and a picture of men with Turkish flags wielding firearms.
In a statement Wednesday, the party said the coloring book was “sadly released too early,” adding that “unfortunately some of the (sketches) were definitely not OK.”
The party said its leadership wanted to “expressly apologize” for printing the book and said the project would be stopped.
“My assessment yesterday was a mistake,” Wagner said. “The book should not have appeared in this form.”
Alternative for Germany, known by the German acronym AfD, has gained a foothold in all state assemblies and the federal parliament since its founding in 2013.
Germany’s domestic intelligence agency has stepped up surveillance of some sections of the party over concerns they are flirting with extremism.