Germany’s President Christian Wulff has recently come under increasing attack from across the political spectrum for not having mentioned a private loan of 500,000€ that he received from the wife of Egon Geerkens, a wealthy German businessman, in October 2008. At this point, he was still serving as a premier of Lower Saxony. When the opposition asked him about his business ties to Geerkens, Wulff neglected to mention the loan. While Wulff had to face questions over this private loan in recent weeks and was accused of deceiving the German Parliament about it, he has now received support from Aiman Mazyek, head of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany. Mazyek called for a respectful handling of the case to preserve Germany’s political stability. According to Mazyek, this was now more important than ever before to prevent society from breaking apart.
In light of recent findings related to right-wing terrorism in Germany, many German Muslims are concerned about potential attacks and Muslim organisations have called for a firm fight against right-wing terrorism, racism, and Islamophobia. The chair of the Islam Council, Ali Kizilkaya, for instance, criticised that German security authorities have focused too much on Islamism and Islamic fundamentalism, while developments in the right-wing milieu have been largely ignored. He called on German authorities to ensure that people can feel safe again. Similarly, Bekir Alboga, spokesperson for the Coordindation Council of Muslims, the umbrella organisation established by four major Muslim organisations in Germany in 2007, summarised the current fear amongst Muslims and the call for action in an open letter to the government (Frankfurter Rundschau). Alboga criticised that the authorities’ focus on an “imaginary threat” posed by Islamism allowed right-wing extremism in Germany to flourish almost unrestrictedly. He then stressed the urgent need for action against right-wing extremism and to protect Muslims in Germany. The Coordination Council also called for a greater appreciation of Germany’s diversity and a culture of acceptance and tolerance.
Prior to the publication of Alboga’s open letter, Foreign Minister Westerwelle expressed his shock about the recent findings. He emphasized that there was no place in Germany for xenophobia, racism, and extremism. Furthermore, as Focus online reports, he promised a thorough investigation into the actions and workings of the Neo-Nazi network.
Meanwhile, Aiman Mazyek, Chair of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, welcomed the intention to hold a memorial service for those killed by the Neo-Nazi group. At the same time, he called on German authorities to publicly acknowledge Islam as part of German society and suggested to do so during the service by reading from the Koran.
Following the most recent findings in a series of right-wing violence in Germany, various migrant organisations are alarmed and call for protests. The chair of the central council of Muslims in Germany, Aiman Mazyek, described the killings of a female police officer in Heilbronn and nine shop owner with migrant backgrounds as a form of terrorism – more specifically, he said it was a classic form of “home-grown terrorism”. He warned not to take Islamophobic and xenophobic tendencies lightly. Similarly, Kenan Kolat, head of the Turkish Community in Germany, said it was a form of right-terror, which had to be stopped. He called on all Germans to participate in protests against right-wing terrorism.
Various German newspapers reported on the end of Ramadan and the three-day celebration (Eid al-Fitr) held in Muslim communities. Aiman Mazyek, Chair of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, wished all Muslims happy celebrations amongst their families and friends, but also pointed to current grievances in many parts of the world. To remind people of the importance of solidarity, peaceful coexistence, and mutual trust, he closed his message by drawing on the case of Tariq Jahan, whose son was recently killed during the riots in the UK. Jahan had called on people to not seek violent revenge, but end the riots and unite (as reported).
The Koordinationsrat der Muslime (KRM), the Muslim umbrella organization in Germany, which unites Germany’s four largest Muslim organizations, announced last week that Ramadan, the month of fasting, begins on August 1st and ends on August 29th. Then, on August 30th, Muslims will celebrate the Idul Fitr , the end of Ramadan. Aiman Mazyek, the KRM’s spokesman, reminded of the meaning of fasting and wished all Muslims well for the time ahead. Since 2008, the main Islamic communities in Germany fast at the same time, which allows an easier integration of Ramadan in e.g. schools or the public sector.
The Central Council of Muslims in Germany has welcomed the draft bill on pre-implantation diagnostics (PID) that was passed by the German government last week. The bill allows pre-implantation diagnosis (which involves genetic testing on embryos) under certain circumstances. The chair of the Council, Aiman Mazyek, stated that the Central Council has long pleaded for the permission of PID, as they see the benefits for the identification of hereditary/ genetic diseases.
The Chairman of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, Aiman Mazyek, criticized plans to hold a “prevention summit” against extremism. The plan to hold the summit was announced by the Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich at the Islam Conference held earlier this year (in March). Friedrich saw the “prevention summit” as an opportunity to encourage a closer collaboration between Muslim communities and security services – independent of the Islam Conference. His plans were criticised for supporting a culture of denunciation within Muslim communities.
Mazyek argued that security questions had already been dealt with as part of the Islam Conference. According to him, it is now more important to evaluate what had been discussed and draw conclusions from that, rather than initiating another security summit. While the Council criticized the event, the Ministry of the Interior is still hopeful that Council representatives will attend the summit.
There is strong resentment amongst Germany’s Muslim and Jewish communities against the Social-Democratic Party’s (SPD) decision not to expel Thilo Sarrazin from its ranks for his harsh criticism of Muslim immigration to Germany. Just before Easter, the decision was taken that Sarrazin, who had made inflammatory statements about race, Muslims, and immigration in his best-selling book Deutschland schafft sich ab (Germany destroys itself), could hold on to his party membership, overcoming efforts by fellow party members demanding his exclusion.
The Party’s decision was not only controversially received within its own ranks (as expressed by many members’ signing of a petition against Sarrazin’s continuing party membership), but also criticised by Aiman Mazyek, Chairman of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany. According to the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung, Mazyek especially criticises the SPD for avoiding a clear (and ruthless) confrontation with Sarrazin and his destructive arguments. Mazyek argues that Sarrazin’s account of (Muslim) minorities in Germany did not align itself with the principles of a tolerant, liberal-democratic society. Therefore, the Party’s decision was not a positive signal for Muslims in Germany.
8 April 2011
German Muslims are planning a new charity fund in order to establish Islamic homes for the aged and kindergartens, the Islamische Zeitung reports. Chairman of the Central Council of Muslims, Aiman Mazyek, said the initiative would reflect the reality in German society, and it was a necessary step for Muslims. The same rights and duties as for Christian charities would apply.
According to Deutsch Türkische Nachrichten, Muslim elderly have different needs than non-Muslims. A pilot project in Offenbach near Frankfurt has therefore started an apprenticeship programme, training young men of migration background to become carers for the elderly. The programme focuses on culturally sensitive issues, language and customs, something that become especially important with people suffering from dementia. Apart from working at homes for the aged, graduates of the programme could also be employed in new projects like shared housing for intercultural groups.
Underlining the fact that Islam has become a part of Germany, the Council of Culture has published a dossier called “Islam, Culture, Politics” on how Islam is practiced and set into context in Germany. After the debates of the past months, which had been dominated by the condescending remarks of Thilo Sarrazin, publisher Olaf Zimmermann wanted to step back an provide a more nuanced view of Islam, its culture and politics. The document will be distributed at parliament, Church academies, public libraries, and also at mosques. The dossier does not only want to write about Muslims, but also incorporates public figures of the Muslim population, such as the Central Council’s chairman Aiman Mazyek, who participated in the publication (Frankfurter Rundschau).