Germany: 2013 Annual Report on the Protection of the Constitution [download]

Ver­fas­sungs­schutz­be­richt 2013

The latest edition, for the year 2013, of the German Annual Report on the Protection of the Constitution, published by the Federal Ministry of the Interior on June 18, 2014.

As recently reported in Euro-Islam, the latest report warns about the rise of xenophobic violence and the Jihadist threat in Germany.

The summary of the report’s findings are available for download below in both English and German, with a link provided to the full report on the website of the Federal German Ministry of the Interior.

Annual Report warns about the rise of xenophobic violence and Jihadist threat in Germany

June 18, 2014

A recently published report by Germany’s Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution warned against the massive increase of xenophobic violence by right-wing extremists in Germany. Compared with 2012 the xenophobic attacks have increased in 2013 by 20.4 percent – from 393 to 473. Minister of the Interior, Thomas de Maizière, and the president of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Hans-Georg Maaßen, also warned of the danger of Islamist terrorism by returnees from the Syrian civil war. De Maizière stressed that the attack at the Jewish Museum in Brussels have made it clear that this threat has become a deadly reality. In relation to Germany he said that more than 320 Islamist “jihadists” traveled from Germany to Syria and according to earlier information about 100 of them have returned. Scholars on Islam criticized Thomas de Maizière and Hans-Georg Maaßen’s concerns. Jörn Thielmann questioned the numbers of people referred to in the annual report as Islamists while Werner Schiffauer, cultural scientist and scholar on Islam, criticized de Mazière for unnecessarily dramatizing the potential of Islamism.

Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) and Coordinating Council of Muslims (KRM) delegation meet in Cologne to convey peace

June 16, 2014

Representatives of the umbrella organization KRM (Coordinating Council of Muslims) have met with delegates of the EKD (Evangelical Church in Germany). The central theme of this year’s meeting was the contribution of religious communities in Germany to promote peace in society and among nations. In the light of the dramatic situation in Iraq, the Chairman of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), Nikolaus Schneider, as well as the spokesman of the Coordinating Council of Muslims (KRM), Ali Kızılkaya, criticized the abuse of religion for the legitimization of violence and war. Both the EKD and KRM announced to publish a guide for dialogue with basic recommendations and remarks for the encouragement and promotion of a Christian-Muslim encounter. The guide, which will be published in autumn, will be drawn up by a Muslim and a Protestant working group and will specifically focus on the implementation of dialogue as a basic prerequisite for a harmonious coexistence.

Erdogan’s visit to Vienna and the Austrian Foreign Minister’s reaction

June 20, 2014

The upcoming visit of the Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan ensures that some Austrian politicians will react very emotionally. Beside the Austrian Foreign Minister, however, some rightwing politicians criticize the Turkish Prime Minister. Nonetheless, some politicians are accusing Erdogan of splitting the Turkish community in Austria. The Austrian Foreign Minister already tweeted that Erdogan should choose his words carefully towards his fellowmen and he should not influence the integration process of Turkish migrants in Austria in a negative way. Soon afterwards a Turkish politician reacted; he tweeted that the “young” Austrian Foreign Minister should apologize for his words addressed towards the Turkish Prime Minister.

Discussion about the Turkish “Matura”

June 11, 2014

Austrian gymnasiums are going to establish Turkish “Matura” (general qualification for university entrance). Apart from the rightwing party FPÖ there is no resistance against that effort. The FPÖ opinion in that case is, that a Turkish Matura will negatively affect the integration process of the Turkish migrants.

Prime minister Recep Tayip Erdogan is visiting Austria

Tags: Austria Turkey relations, Integration & Migration

June 2, 2014

On June 19, 2014 the prime minister Recep Tayip Erdogan will arrive for a short visit at Vienna. According to Turkish and Austrian newspapers, it is not an official visit. There will be no official meetings between Turkish and Austrian ministers or representatives. Nonetheless, the timing of this visit is not chosen accidentaly, but it is related to 50th  anniversary of the labor recruitment agreement celebrations.

Proposal of June 18, 2014: Yes to secularism, no to discrimination

June 18, 2014

On June 18, 2014 representatives of several French associations published a petition advocating: “Yes to secularism, no to discrimination.” Among the signatories are sociologists Jean Baubérot, Christine Delohy and Saïd Bouamama, along with Hervé Bramy, Patrick Braouezek and journalist Rokhaya Diallo, among others.

The petition begins: “We veiled women banned from school field trips, but also parents of schoolchildren, women, union members, activists, female and male politicians, intellectuals, citizens, launch an appeal for respect for secularism and the end to discriminatory treatments.”

At a time when France is making international headlines after the recent European Parliament Elections witnessed the rise of far-right parties, the petition claims that France has transformed from a country that stands for “human rights” into one that “rejects foreigners, ‘others,’ and all those who do not conform to the predominant norm (white, male, Christian, rich).” The call for equal rights aims to create a “desire to be unified regardless of difference.”

Currently, veiled mothers are not allowed to chaperon their children on field trips, but have the right to vote in school committee elections and to be members of these committees. “We can’t find coherent arguments to explain this to our children,” states the petition, “At their age what would they think of the mistreatment that their mother is subjected to on the part of educational institutions?”

The appeal points to the increasing discrimination that Muslim women face when they accompany their children to school. Yet the petition does not seek to dismantle secularism, rather to ensure that secularism is “finally respected and fairly applied.”

“We, signatories of this appeal, request the repeal of the Chatel memorandum, that which is sexist and Islamophobic, as well as all the discriminatory laws and memorandums that preceded it. Islamophobia, discrimination, sexism, injustice, inequality, stigmatization: That’s enough.”

The signatories invite those who support secularism and equality to put an end to discrimination, which “promotes the rise of extremism that pits populations against one another.” They requested a meeting on June 18 before the Ministry of Education to call for an end to the Chatel memorandum.

Baby Loup’s return to the court of appeals: towards what secularism?

June 16, 2014

On June 16 the Court of Appeals, comprised of eighteen judges, reconvened to discuss the 2008 dismissal of Fatima Afif, an employee at the Baby Loup crèche in Chanteloup-les-Vignes. The court’s decision is previewed for the end of the month. The retrial comes at a time of heightened religious tensions linked to the growing fear of radical Islam. The case’s decision could “redefine the conditions of secularism’s application” in France.

Attorney General Jean-Claude Marin has pushed to abandon the crèche’s controversial decision to prosecute Madam Afif, but to uphold her dismissal for gross misconduct. The case’s senior judge justifies her dismissal on the grounds that she “remained in the space after her legal suspension and exhibited aggressive behavior.”

Madame Afif’s Lawyer Claire Waquet stated that the employee was a victim of “religious discrimination,” and had previously won the Supreme Court’s support, which had effectively annulled Afif’s dismissal. The Supreme Court’s decision evoked the emotion of many politicians and intellectuals and led to the Court of Appeal’s decision to reestablish her dismissal in November 2013. “That her employers had wanted to fire her isn’t the problem, it’s how they fired her that shocks me. One doesn’t fire someone for misconduct and even less so for gross misconduct, without warning and without compensatory damages, someone who exercises their freedom of belief.”

The Baby Loup affair has caused “the secularists to mobilize.” Jeannette Bougrab, president of HALDE, a government association that advocates for equality and an end to discrimination, also showed her support for the crèche against the advice of her institution. Maneul Valls, a member of the National Assembly, called the conflict a “challenge to secularism.”

In September 2013 Francois Hollande spoke of a potential law pertaining to “private enterprises that assures a mission of childcare.” The president charged the “Observatoire de la laïcité,” a government organization tasked with monitoring secularism’s application, with proposing the law. The commission dismissed the option of a new law pertaining to secularism’s application but made actionable recommendations to the crèche. Supporters of the crèche were disappointed with the commission’s decision and many wonder if the judges will be swayed by public opinion. A recent BVA survey states that 80% are in favor of new legislation.

The affair’s long spectacle in the public eye has taken its toll on the citizens of Chanteloup-les-Vignes. Baby Loup has been replaced by another crèche, and citizens complain that the city has received negative publicity in recent years. According to the Nouvel Observateur the crèche has reopened in a nearby town and Fatima Afif has returned to her city after seeking refuge in Morocco. Current deliberations center on the question: “The history of French secularism continues to be written. But in what sense?”

Spanish Police Break Up Alleged Jihadist Recruitment Network: Suspected Leader is Former Detainee at Guantanamo Bay

June 16, 2014

Spanish police broke up what they said was a jihadist recruitment network in Madrid, led by a former detainee at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, that sent volunteers to fight in Syria and Iraq with al Qaeda-inspired rebels.

Police detained nine people who allegedly fought alongside the Sunni militia Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS, officials said. A person familiar with the probe said the suspected leader of the network is Lahcen Ikassrien, Moroccan by birth and nationalized Spanish. He spent four years at Guantanamo after he was captured in 2001 in Afghanistan, where he allegedly fought with the Taliban. He has denied being a Taliban member.

In Spain, Mr. Ikassrien has been a prominent voice for the closure of the Guantanamo camp, giving numerous interviews with local media and taking part in human-rights events organized by Amnesty International, according to Fernando Reinares, an expert in terrorism at Spain’s Elcano Royal Institute, a think tank.

“This detention comes to show that the idea many had, that the jihadists in Syria and elsewhere are a new generation that has no connection with the previous 9/11 generation, is completely false,” Mr. Reinares said. “What we see in fact, is that many of that older generation are now in leading positions all over the jihadist movement.”

Several dozen Islamist operatives have been arrested in Spain over the past two years, many of whom were recruited online.