New Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said Islam does not belong to Germany and set out hardline immigration policies in an interview published on Friday, as he sought to see off rising far-right challengers, reports Reuters.
Seehofer told Bild newspaper he would push through a "master plan for quicker deportations", in his first major interview since he was sworn into office on Wednesday. The minister - a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's CSU Bavarian allies who are further to the right than her own Christian Democrats (CDU) - said he would also classify more states as 'safe' countries of origin, which would make it easier to deport failed asylum seekers.
The statements come after Merkel's conservatives, and their coalition allies - the Social Democrats - lost ground to the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party in elections last year. Seehofer is particularly keen to show his party is tackling immigration ahead of Bavaria's October regional election, when the AfD is expected to enter that state assembly.