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Actually spending time with Muslim immigrants seems to have changed Arthur Wagner’s view of Islam.

A prominent member of a German far-right political party known for its virulent anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant stance has converted to Islam and stepped down from his leadership role in the party.

Yes, seriously.

Arthur Wagner was a leading member of a state chapter of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, whose slogan “Islam doesn’t belong in Germany” encapsulates its extreme nativist and anti-Muslim views.

The AfD, which is now the third-largest political party in Germany after its stunning success in last September’s elections, has tried to ban the construction of mosques in Germany, called on the country’s border police to shoot refugees and migrants if necessary to stop them from entering the country, and run ads reminiscent of WWII-era Nazi propaganda warning of the threat posed by Muslims coming into Germany.

Wagner himself in the past has accused German Chancellor Angela Merkel of making a “huge mistake” by allowing so many Muslim refugees into the country and warned that “Germany is mutating into a different country,” according to German media.

Which is why Wagner’s sudden conversion to Islam and decision to step down from his leadership position is so striking.

Wagner has called his decision to convert to Islam “a private matter” and declined to comment further to the press.

But German media reports that the 48-year-old father of two has been spending his free time doing volunteer work with Muslim immigrants, including providing translation help to Chechen immigrants, since he speaks Russian and is himself of Russian descent. That personal interaction seems to have been the catalyst for his change of heart.

Wagner is part of a broader history of skeptics and critics who have converted to Islam

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