Expectations and reactions ahead of the German Islam Conference

January 30, 2014

 

Muslims associations and German State authorities will be meeting this year at the annual German Islam Conference to continue the debate about Muslim life in German society. The German Islam Conference was initiated in 2006 by former Minister of Interior Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU). One if the issues will be the implementation of an official Muslim holiday. The speaker of the Turkish community Kenan Kolat raised the importance of an official holiday as “an important signal to the Muslim population”. Kolat appreciated the openness of the designated Minister Thomas De Maizière (CDU) for dialogue, criticizing the conservative attitude of his predecessor Friedrich. The designated Minister of Interior is said to meet representatives of Muslims associations including the Turkish community, the Alevi community and Islamic cultural centers next week, discussing upcoming issues. 

 

Sefi Ögütlü, General-Secretary of the Islamic cultural centers underlined the relevance to open a new chapter. Bekir Alboga, representative of the Turkish Islamic Union Institute for Islamic religion (DITIB) emphasized his optimism. The new Minister would show an appropriate attitude towards the Islamic communities.  Yilmaz Kahraman, representative of the Alevi community in Germany criticized the ineffectiveness of former conferences, which would have left no concrete results but brochures and leaflets. Kahraman called Muslims not to ask what the State may be able to do for them, but look at ways for Muslims to contribute to society and avoid parallel structures.

 

 Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: http://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/inland/vor-treffen-zu-islamkonferenz-tuerkische-gemeinde-will-gesetzlichen-muslimfeiertag-12768940.html

 

Central council of Muslims: http://islam.de/23250

No obligations for the usage of coffins during Muslim funerals

December 11, 2013

 

The parliament of the State of Baden-Württemberg has agreed to abolish the obligation for coffins during funeral processes. More than 650.000 Muslims live in the State of Baden-Württemberg and were left uncertain, whether to return the bodies of their members to the countries of origin or to ask for a Muslim funeral. Also, there will be no need to prove the religious affiliation of Muslims. This was a controversial topic. Unlike many Christians, Muslims are not members of a formal recognized church. The fraction of the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) was concerned about the rise of Muslim funerals.

 

Die Welt: http://www.welt.de/regionales/stuttgart/article122820601/Das-Ende-der-Sargpflicht-soll-kommen.html

Assault against Ahmadiyya mosque in Leipzig

November 15, 2013

 

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Jammat community of Leipzig has demonstrated confidence after a committed assault against the construction of its mosque last Friday. Unknown perpetrators had thrown pigs’ heads in front of the mosque. Abdullah Uwe Wagishauser, chair of the community in Germany said that the community would not loose its composure. However, he regretted the fact about people being able to react till this level.

The mayor of Leipzig Burkhard Jung (SPD) condemned the assault, saying that Leipzig would be shocked after such a disgusting assault. Robert Clemen, chair of the Leipzig Christian Democratic Party (CDU) condemned the assault as anti-constitutional and an act against the freedom of religion.

Skadi Jennicke, council of the left socialist party (Linke) described the assault as an act of intolerance and disrespect.

 

Leipziger Volkszeitung: http://www.lvz-online.de/leipzig/polizeiticker/polizeiticker-leipzig/anschlag-auf-leipziger-moschee-gelaende-unbekannte-spiessen-schweinekoepfe-auf-holzpfloecke/r-polizeiticker-leipzig-a-215113.html

Protests against mosque construction in Leipzig

November 7, 2013

 
Members of the Christian Democratic Union party (CDU) have protested against the construction of a mosque in the Northern suburb of Leipzig. Among them is the CDU member Dorothee Dubrau who has initiated an online petition, which has been signed by approximately 3.000 citizens. Local political and religious representatives such as the Evangelical community raised their concerns about the construction of the mosque, whose construction is planned by the Ahmadiyya community. Even the right-wing extremist party NPD used this occasion to organize a demonstration against the mosque.

Meanwhile, CDU Federal parliamentarians criticized the initiative of Dorothee Dubrau, arguing in favor of the mosque construction. The project was approved and legalized months ago. Robert Clemen, parliamentary member of the CDU opposed the initiative, emphasizing that the “freedom of religion would guarantee the peaceful coexistence of religions”.

 

Die Tageszeitung: http://www.taz.de/Streit-um-Bau-einer-Moschee/!127041/

Council of Muslims in Germany proposes the inclusion of two Islamic holidays in public calendar

March 28

Aiman Mazyek, representative of the council of Muslims in Germany has proposed the inclusion of two holidays into the public calendar, one holiday for Eid Al-Adha (sacrifice) and one holiday for Ramadan. The integration of Muslims in Germany would be strengthened through the recognition of Islamic holidays. These holidays would be useful to the entire German society, as Muslims could step in and replace their non-Muslim colleagues during other public holidays.

Conservative politicians such as Wolfgang Bosbach (CDU) disagree with the proposal, since Germany would not have an Islamic tradition.

A study of experts, released by the Robert Bosch Foundation has confirmed the claim of Muslims for being treated unequal.

 

Germany’s Disputed Dual Citizenship Law ”Everyone Must Be Able to Participate”

The German government’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Markus Löning (FDP), is critical of citizenship laws that force young Turks to choose between German and Turkish nationalities. His view breaks with government policy to date. Daniel Brössler spoke to him

It was a compromise that now forces thousands of young descendants of immigrants in Germany to make a tough decision. Since the year 2000, a regulation has been in force granting immigrants’ children born in Germany since 1990 the right to a German passport. They are temporarily allowed to retain the passport of their parents’ homeland alongside the German one. But by the time they have turned 23 at the latest, they must give up one citizenship, as long as their parents do not come from an EU country, for example.

This has led to quite a number of Germans becoming foreigners again since the beginning of the year. The CDU and CSU, which pushed the compromise through against proposals to fine-tune the legislation by the SPD and the Greens, are keen to maintain the option obligation. But the SPD says if it wins the election it will do away with the ruling – an approach now supported by the government’s Commissioner for Human Rights, FDP politician Markus Löning.

 

German Federal Parliament approves ritual circumcision

Dec 12

 

After controversial debates about religious motivated circumcision, the German Federal Parliament approves circumcision. The circumcision must be executed by trained persons and must fulfill health and medical regulations.

 

A prior draft attempted to legalize the circumcision of boys with the minimum age of 14.

However, the majority of the parliament did not approve it.

 

Federal Minister of Justice Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger (FDP) welcomed the decision of the Federal Parliament: “For decades, parents have not been penalized when accessing professional means to circumcise their sons.” Circumcision would remain legal.

 

Head of the party in parliament, Frank-Walter Steinmeier (SPD) criticized the decision of the district court in Cologne, which had forbidden circumcision, as an alienating act for the Jewish community. Minister of Justice in Berlins, Thomas Heilmann (CDU) interpreted the law as a welcoming signal for Muslims and Jews.

 

Muslim associations and Green Party in Lower Saxony criticize Minister of Interior

November 26

 

Muslim associations in Lower Saxony have criticized Minster of Interior Uwe  Schünemann (CDU) for defining Muslims as a marginal group. The associations did not accept to dialogue with the Ministry of Interior in July, after Minister Schünemann had refused to withdraw his “checklist” for the recognition of Islamists. Emine Oguz, a lawyer of the Islamic Union Institute for Religion – Ditib said, Schünemann would continue the checklist and keep controlling the mosques.

 

The migration policy speaker of the Green party Filiz Polat, criticized the government of Lower Saxony for ignoring the situation of Muslims. The Green party claims to record criminal offences against Muslims. Also, the Greens plan to include the situation of Muslims as an issue for the upcoming elections in Lower Saxony. The share of the Muslim population in Lower Saxony is about 6,2%.

Federal president Joachim Gauck refuses to meet bereaved family members

November 26

 

Federal President Joachim Gauck has refused to meet bereaved family members of the victims murdered by the right-wing terrorist group NSU (National Socialist Underground). The Turkish community had welcomed a meeting but the Office of the Federal President refused it.

 

Kenan Kolat, representative of the Turkish community criticized the reaction of the Federal President. “The President should set a sign. Many family members of the victims would have been disappointed by the results of the commission of inquiry.”

 

The reaction of President Gauck is peculiar. He condemned the NSU series of murders but did not take a clear stand in favor of the victims. In contrast to his predecessor Christian Wulff (CDU), Gauck refused to recognize Islam as an integral part of Germany. He has underlined the “strangeness” of Islam and its differences to the German and European identity. He related it to the historical strangeness of Western democracies towards Communism. President Gauck has shown understanding for the fear of Germans towards Islam and Muslim immigrants.

Extremism check-list in Lower Saxony

June 17

A new initiative of the Ministry of Interior of Lower Saxony raised concern among German Muslim associations. The Bremen and Lower Saxony branches of the Muslim associations Ditib and the Shura of Lower Saxony cancelled a scheduled meeting for Monday with the local Ministry of Interior Uwe Schünemann (CDU). The reason for such concern is the publication of a checklist, which has been released in a booklet by the Ministry. The publication, titled: “Radicalization processes in the fields of Islamist Extremism and Terrorism”, is part of the “anti-radicalization concept”, implemented by the Lower Saxony institutions. The checklist includes behavioral and visible “indices” for the public to recognize Muslims who would potentially lean to terrorism, including weight loss, evident interest in sports and the insistence for privacy.

The Minister of Interior Schünemann has showed his willingness to discuss some of the issues. However, Muslim associations reject the checklist as a conceptual failure and request the cancellation of the whole project.

Avni Altiner, a representative of the Lower Saxony Mosque Association, warned that “such generalization would lead to a climate of fear”. The migration policy speaker of the Lower Saxony Green party, Ms. Filiz Polat, has asked Schünemann to send his apologies to Muslim associations and criticized the Minister of Interior for his attempts to forge ahead against the Muslim community. Polat sees the Extremism checklist as the rock bottom of the relationship between Muslims and the government of Lower Saxony. Laws that allow investigations of mosques without a given suspicion, she declared, would diminish religious rights and hinder any effort for dialogue.