A staffer with Germany’s far-right, anti-immigrant party almost died on Wednesday — and a politician with Turkish roots reportedly saved his life.
When the employee of Germany’s Alternatives for Germany (AfD) party collapsed and stopped breathing during a state parliamentary session, Serdar Yüksel, a member of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) in the state parliament of North-Rhine Westphalia, jumped in to help.
Yüksel is a trained intensive care nurse, and he and another member of parliament from the Free Democrat Party used CPR to save the man, according to German media.
The AfD employee survived and was later taken to the hospital.
Here’s why this is more than a simple feel-good story: Yüksel is of Kurdish descent, and his parents are from Turkey. He was born in Essen, Germany, and has been a member of the center-left SPD since 1989, according to his bio. (Vox reached out to Yüksel’s office for comment, and we’ll update if we hear back.)
Germany’s AfD party, meanwhile, is virulently anti-immigrant and anti-Islam, and has gained strength in recent years by stoking fears about newcomers. (Since 2015, Germany has welcomed more than a million migrants and refugees, including many asylum-seekers from conflict zones in Syria and Iraq.)
After regional elections this weekend in the German state of Hesse, the AfD is now represented in all 16 German states and is the country’s third-largest political party. As Vox’s Jennifer Williams has written:
The AfD … 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 World War II-era Nazi propaganda warning of the threat posed by Muslims coming into Germany.
The AfD’s rise has also helped fracture German politics, with fringe parties on both the right and the left gaining ground. That has dealt a significant blow to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s “grand coalition,” so much so that she’s stepping down from party leadership and will not seek reelection when her term is up in 2021.
Given this political upheaval, it’s worth noting that an AfD employee was helped by someone with a background the party ostensibly wants to keep out of Germany.
And this isn’t the first time the AfD had gotten some cosmic payback for its nativist views: In January, a prominent member of the party converted to Islam after reportedly working with Muslim immigrants.